In my youth, I was pro-peace, anti-war – a staunch pacifist. Two of my favorite and classic anti-war movies were “The Americanization of Emily” and “King of Hearts”. There was a line in the former movie which stuck with me. James Garner tells Julie Andrews that as long as we honor and pay tribute to the courage and valor of soldiers, we will have wars. The tribute will only encourage young people to fight in order to gain the glory. Indeed, this appears to be a successful recruitment tactic among terrorists groups.
I believe there is a lot of truth in this statement, and I used it as a convenient excuse not to buy poppies every November 11. I believed that if we looked down upon wars and the people who fight in them, and we highlight the atrocities committed in wars, that common sense and pacifism would eventually prevail.
Boy was I wrong! Great fantasy and wishful thinking.
Unfortunately, there always have been and there always will be cruel and evil thugs motivated by power, money and sadism who lust for war and its inevitable destruction. These people, when they act rationally, look for weakness in their opponents, and move quickly to exploit any actual or perceived weakness. Appeasement is the greatest weakness as perceived by such people.
Pacifism will never encourage such people to change their ways.
Freedom, separation of religion and state, and democracy are much more important than pacifism. We only can deal with the evil through the use of overwhelming and deadly force. Military actions are inevitable and necessary to deter such people.
This Remembrance Day I will buy a poppy and wear it proudly to honor the brave young men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces, and in the military of the NATO countries, for the sacrifices they and their families make to combat totalitarian and sadistic brutes and their crazed followers in order to give more people around the world the hope and ability to enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.
The greatest selfishness is displayed by those who are willing to turn their backs on others who do not have the freedoms we have because war runs counter to their “ideals” (whatever they might be), and may impose a financial cost upon them.