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NINETIETH REMEMBRANCE DAY November 11, 2008

Posted by wmmbb in Peace.
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On 11 November 1918, the First World War finally came to an end, or at least the fighting ceased.

James Carroll observes in The Boston Globe:

World War I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, yet an irresistible current of nihilism had been set loose. Fought in the name of democracy, that war was in fact a triumph of militarism and imperialism – on all sides. It led to the punitive imposition of artificial borders in Europe, which were the immediate cause of World War II; in the Middle East, the remote cause of today’s most dangerous conflicts; and in Africa, where consequent genocide has found its niche. Perhaps most damaging was the 1914 legitimizing of mass violence, with the trenches anticipating both gas chambers and the unleashed atom. Hitler and Stalin were empowered by the so-called Great War, which is why both World War II and the Cold War should always be considered in its context. To regard all three conflicts as a single War of the 20th Century obliterates any notion that categories of “just war” apply.

Dutifully, ABC News Online heads their story: “Australia pauses to remember war sacrifice”. Sacrifice is noble, and blood sacrifice is the noblest act of all. At the same time, as least I recoil at the thought of the Aztecs sacrificing their first born to the gods. And the narrative of heroism does not include the fact that the troops before going over the top used to tank up on rum, in the endless and in hindsight foolish trench warfare.

Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd speaking at the War Memorial in Canberra spoke of his hope for peace:

“Wars continue and the innocent continue dying. Must every generation go through war to be reminded why there should be no war?” he said.

“We have all endured a most bloody century, but let us resolve afresh at the dawn of the new century… that this might be a truly peaceful century.”

Mr Rudd spoke of some of the 100,000 Australian lives lost in wars overseas, in battles at Gallipoli and Fromelles.

“Today these numbers are mind-numbing, they are horrific in their magnitude,” he said.

He also paid tribute to Australian allies and all those who have contributed to shaping Australia.

“Today too we honour our friends and our allies who have been with us in the thick of battle,” he said.

“Today we remember those who fell, we honour the contribution they have made to this great nation, the contribution they have made to the world.

“We commit ourselves afresh to the great cause of peace, we honour them.”/blockquote>

The question is simply: Is there an alternative to violence as a means to resolve disputes? Peace will not happen until such an alternative is discovered. The words of Martin Luther King are instructive:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

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