After Canadian Remembrance Day on Nov 11th I remember the words of the soldier I respect the most: Christina‘s Opa. He fought for the germans as a patriot and later turned his back on violence and became a powerful advocate for peace through Mennonite Central Committee.
He always quoted Amerian General William Tecumseh Sherman when he spoke to large audiences and this quote resonates deeply with my experience as a peace builder in the Philippines…
“I confess, without shame, that I am sick and tired of fighting — its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands, and fathers … it is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated … that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation…WAR IS HELL.”
On Remembrance day I thank many soldiers for their willingness to give themselves in service for others. I disagree with their method, but for some I trust their intention was good. My time peace building in the war zones of the Philippines has shown me that trying to build lasting peace through war is like trying to put out a fire with a gas can. The fire gets bigger and in the same way fighting armed struggle with armed struggle only makes the impact of the struggle last longer into the succeeding generations.
When my generation says “Lest we forget” & “Never again” we must learn to mean that we will choose exhaustion on journey of peace and understanding out enemies before we choose to fight. Reconciliation is the only way to lasting peace and transformed conflict. Sadly, in history, the path of peace has never truly been exhausted.
We will continue to work for peace. It is Gods will and the most practical course of action to ending violence.