In 2018, on Armistice Day (now known as Veterans Day), I was sailing toward New York on the Queen Mary 2. So much has happened since then. We’ve changed presidents and struggled through a global pandemic that is still infecting people. We’ve watched in horror as Putin invaded Ukraine and now Hammas has started the war between Gaza and Israel that is claiming thousands of innocent lives.
Armistice Day 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of a day set aside to honor all those who have fought in wars. President Eisenhower, himself a veteran, changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans, living or deceased. It is now recognized on November 11. The first Armistice Day was set aside to commemorate the signing of the 1918 WWI Armistice. The hope that war would be the end of wars obviously has happened.
Longing and Hoping for Peace
We wait for world leaders to use what finite influence they have on other leaders waging war on neighbors. It feels hopeless. The images of small children and vulnerable adults watching the total annihilation of what was once their homes are heart-wrenching. Words don’t seem to matter. Relief workers are stymied trying to deliver much-needed medical supplies and the essentials of life. I have no useful observations to make. However, I have found solace in the thoughts of others and have gathered them together here for us to ponder as the conflicts continue to tear apart communities and countries.
We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Only the dead have seen the end of the war.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. Also: Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.
War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. Also: The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Hate multiplies hate, violence multiples violence, and toughness multiples toughness in a descending spiral of destruction . . .the chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Signs of Hope
I do see signs of hope. When I went to vote early, the woman assisting told me they’d processed over 4,000 people the day before. Voter turnout is growing, which tells me more of us are tuning in and paying attention. Slowly but surely I am seeing an increasing diversity among our elected leaders.
Armistice Day. A day of hope. Perhaps we can yet learn from the past and work together, in spite of our differences, for a more peaceful future. I hope we can create and sustain communities that promote justice, embrace mercy, and truly let people worship in their own way. May we turn our weapons of war into tools for construction and cultivation.
To all who have served or have lost loved ones who have served, may we never forget the sacrifices you have made for us all.
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Mary Brewster’s Love Life and Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures: available wherever books are sold. Bookshop.org/Mayflower; Mary BrewsterAmazon.com/Mary Brewster’s Love Life
Autographed copies are available on my website.
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