From Where I Sit – The Least We Can Do

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Canadians will stop whatever they’re doing and remember. Many of us will be fuzzy on the exact dates and details of the great wars, but they will nonetheless, pause to show respect for the ultimate sacrifice Canadian forces made on our behalf.

At cenotaphs across the country, thousands will gather to watch modern-day military personnel, air cadets and police officers brave often-harsh November weather to march in parades and provide an honour guard. Dignitaries and others will have the opportunity to lay wreaths.

Several years ago, I had the chance to speak at the Remembrance Day program in my community. I was bringing greetings from the County in my role as county councillor. That was the official reason for my presence. As I prepared my remarks, I felt a far more personal aspect to my involvement. I realized that in another era, my son was approaching the age where he could be drafted. Now, that’s personal!

These words are as true today as when I spoke them ten years ago:

I have a son approaching the age to be drafted. Like yesterday’s mothers, I can’t imagine sending my boy to war. I can’t imagine the pain and heartache of families whose boys didn’t come home. I can’t imagine a cause important enough to kill each other. I can’t imagine living in a war-torn country. I can’t imagine it’s taking this long to learn history’s lessons.

We owe it to ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren to make sure no one else’s children ever die in this way again. World peace is achievable. The real enemy is bigotry and intolerance. You and I and all of us can do something about that enemy right here and right now.

If there is light in the soul
There will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person
There will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation
There will be peace in the world.”

~ Chinese proverb by an unknown author

Need I say it out loud? We are so blessed in Canada. Yet, that blessing also brings responsibility to each of us. We are responsible to think, act and speak with tolerance, kindness and love. We are responsible to support, with dollars and energy, those agencies working with troubled individuals. Define ‘troubled individuals’ in your own way (fetal alcohol babies, battered women, high school dropouts, foster children, the poor and disadvantaged). We know that children who grow up unloved and mistreated will likely manifest some sort of criminal or dysfunctional behaviour. We all suffer whether the results are a stabbing outside of a Whyte Avenue pub or from a terrorist bombing in a European subway.

It’s so easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed, but we can make a difference one child at a time, one interaction at a time. It’s the least we can do, in the name of our veterans, from where I sit.

*reprinted with permission