Why This Ritual?

At church, I listened, as two people read the names of our Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. Those names represented men and women – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children – all of whom were loved by their families and friends. And the list went on and on and on. With each name came the message, our wonderful, young Canadians are giving their lives, not that we might be free here in Canada, but that the world might be free. They are fighting to end the oppression in a far away country.

Today, Remembrance Day rituals, born out of the wars of the past, have taken on a new significance. Another one of our soldiers died last week. Although we don’t feel endangered living in Canada, our armed forces face danger every day.

I personally struggle with the whole concept of war. Yet I cannot ignore the oppression, the violence, the pain in far off places like Afghanistan. Our Bible, through the words of St. Paul, tells us “when one suffers we all suffer.”  We cannot close our ears to the cries of fellow human beings no matter where they live.

Our freedom, here in Canada, is not guaranteed. It is as fragile as our caring for one another. It is as fragile as life itself. We need this Remembrance Day ritual, not just to remember the past, but to help us make sense of the present. This ritual tells us once again, to practice peace every single day of our lives.

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