Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembrance Day

November 11th is the traditional Remembrance Day here in Canada. I do not usually go to the services because I dislike seeing political leaders trying to look patriotic by condemning the younger generations for being too vacuous to care about Remembrance day and the veterans. It is not actually true. Canada, for the most part does a great job of teaching the history of World War II at least and the Holocaust (any Holocaust deniers can keep it to their own blog, I have heard your insane ramblings and I am not interested in hearing them again). It is always good political fodder to act holier-than-thou and since the religious righteousness act does not fly in all parts of the country, claiming that everyone but you is insensitive to the contributions of our veterans is usually a safe bet with the less sophisticated voters.

I also find it disgraceful when "multi-denominational services" feature little jabs designed to appeal to Evangelicals and imply that no one who died fighting in World War II was not a Christian or that there were no atheists in foxholes. Seeing remembrance services used as evangelizing opportunities makes me physically ill. I wish there were a Remembrance Day service where politicians and clergy were not allowed to speak at people.

But this year I even avoided watching the memorial services on TV. I had noticed in the run up to Remembrance day that the media has been trying to twist the meaning of the motto "Never Again" into something it was not intended to mean. When I was a youth we were taught that "Never Again" meant that we would never again hesitate when mass murder and genocide was being perpetrated and never again would we allow totalitarian regimes to commit crimes like the Holocaust. It was not that we would never again wage war for any reason or that we would never again risk the lives of soldiers in the cause of freedom.

Many of the people who accuse everyone but themselves of forgetting about what the veterans and war dead did for Canada are the first to forget why we went to war in Europe. I have no doubt that if the events of World War II were to repeat themselves down to the miniscule level, the people of influence in our society - the media, whoever is in opposition in the parliament - would not hesitate to call out "No Blood for Poles!" or "Stop the colonial rivalry in North Africa!"

I will always remember the sacrifice of our soldiers, the lessons in history of the Holocaust and the fact that the generations after failed to learn a damn thing except how to accuse others of memory loss.


At Sat Nov 12, 06:28:00 PM 2005, Blogger FreeThinker said...

November 11 is "Veterans Day" in the US. An absurd slogan bandied about here is "There are no Atheists in Foxholes." Supposedly, in the heat of battle, with death imminent, a soldier will cry out to a god even if he or she was not previously a believer. This is simply untrue, and frankly, insulting to our non-believing soldiers. In contrast to believers, atheists put their country before any god. Moreover, the notion that when one is near death -- vulnerable, helpless, scared, and weak -- one will desperately cry out to a supernatural being underscores that strong and empowered people don't need divine intervention. So isn't the crux of this slogan that belief in a god is based on fear and helpless desperation?

There are Atheist in Foxholes, just as there are atheists in the office, in school, in the neighborhood, in the family -- everywhere. According to the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, there are 4,332 Active Duty Atheists and 112,166 with no religious affiliation reported in the U.S. military.

At Sun Nov 13, 12:40:00 AM 2005, Blogger Apesnake said...

I agree. I once saw a cartoon that showed the slogan that there are no atheists in foxholes but followed it up with the statement that they were all up at the front line fighting for their country.

I suppose the image of people who do not share your believes converting when scared and stressed brings comfort to a certain type of insecure person. Much like those who tell people who have offended them that they will be laughing up in heaven when they see the blasphemer roasting in Hell. I think churches should do a little psychological screening and counsellings. Certain churchs more than others (cough...700 Club...cough).

The foxhole slogan is sort of like the recurring myth that Darwin recanted on his death bed. Or the belief among some Muslins that the last Pope converted to Islam at his death.

I suppose the idea of a good Christian military fighting for a good Christian nation makes for a less complicated and more self-inflating story than a group of diverse people fighting for reasons as diverse as God, country, freedom, and fraternity.

Oh well. What can you do? (Other than teach reason skills and informal logic in schools but that seems to be out of the question for some reason)


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