How do you celebrate Remembrance Day in a community that does not believe in war?

Peace Palace den Haag, NL

Peace Palace den Haag, NL

It’s a question I have never asked myself, until I moved into a community designed by the Mennonites. I knew they opposed the (Abbotsford) air show because it promoted war planes/machinery. And I knew they had been pacifists for centuries in many countries.

So I was surprised to meet Mennonites who actually value Remembrance Day – November 11 –   traditionally the celebration (in Commonwealth countries) for a city or country’s fallen soldiers. A time to remember (usually with parades and speeches at the war memorial) the loss and waste of life on the battle field – contemplating the victors and the vanquished in the hope that the sacrifices of the fallen will not be forgotten. Maybe they will even inoculate us against recreating the horrific circumstances of war again?

While I would not have thought the Mennonites would value Remembrance Day, I have learned that some appreciate it as an occasion to feel grateful for those who have sacrificed their lives, so that peace may predominate in the world. Ahh – peace is worth defending!! And though one chooses not to fight, one can take a stance, to peacefully support those who fight in defence of universal values like justice, goodness, truth, beauty, freedom.

That has made me re-think the relationship of those who value peace so much that they refuse to fight and the fighters themselves. In the greater scheme of things perhaps both are needed as simultaneous warriors in service to a greater good? The wielders of the sword act as warriors in defence of person, place, purpose (and planet) – they defend the values we embody, manifest and contain. While, the peace lovers act as warriors of the spirit, holding the intention for peace that supports the inner life and the values and visions that inspire the essence of who we are as a people, a city, a nation and even a species.

I am learning that in this day and age, we need both kinds of warriors, because as we negotiate the chaos of human-initiated dysfunctions that threaten our core values, if we do not defend what we have built, in both our inner and outer world, we undermine the future of peace.