Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Remembrance Day

CBC, Nov 11, 2008

Today, November 11, in Canada is called Remembrance Day, and it is the day on which we as a nation reflect on the cost of war. I have been lucky enough never to have been close to a war. But I am cognizant of my own involvement in military affairs, from my days as an Army Cadet in high school to drinking with German soldiers from Shilo in Manitoba to working with the military and speaking at their conferences both in Canada and the United States.

This has been a test for me. For as long as I can recall, I have been a pacifist, and remain a pacifist to this day. I do not believe in war, and do not believe it solves problems. I believe that was is the result of failed politics launched on behalf of failed politicians. I weep for those who are killed and maimed in wars, from those Canada fought in the past and in the present, to those agonizing conflicts in Darfur and Congo that persist to this day.

I believe that if we glorify war and its participants - something our politicians and traditional media are ever happy to do - we propagate its existence and perpetuate its suffering. When I work with the military, I look for the little things that tell me that our men and women at arms do not perpetuate this glorification of violence, that they are opposed to the use of force - hearing them, for example, describe "the right result" as one in which there are no casualties, not even of the 'enemy'. And the people I respect on this day are not simply the warfighters, but those in all walks of life who remember the many victims of war, the many lives shattered, and who actually believe, as I do, in an end to war.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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