We can remember things we didn’t experience. Humanity has a collective memory, one that surpasses our individual neurons.
I remembered today. Visited the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne with my dad and aunt. It was built after the First World War but includes displays from then until the present.
I remember the millions upon millions of men and boys prevented from giving all of their goodness to the world by lives cut short or scarred by violence. I remember the millions upon millions of women and girls who have given so much in every conflict, on the battlefields, at home and those torn asunder by war happening around them.
I remember that the striving for power by a small number of men is where it always originates.
I remember that beyond that striving is what is named on the walls of the Shrine as fear and envy.
I remember that every story I have heard from soldiers includes the truth that whatever the reason for the war, the reason they do what they do, and why they go back, is because of their mates. The bonds formed by those small groups of soldiers that do the actual fighting. Never leaving a man behind. Going above and beyond the call of duty. Being there to do what needs to be done to get your mates home is always at the core. It is why we find them honourable. War is not honourable.
I remember that the centrepiece of the Shrine is the Sanctuary at the heart of which is a tombstone with the words ‘Greater love hath no man’. As in “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
This is why they go.
It was starkly clear to me today that the story starts with fear and envy and ends in love and peace. Well done to those who designed the displays as those are where we must end. If only we could begin there as well.
In a time that seems to have forgotten the lessons so hard learnt, I promise to remember. With everything we see and hear stoking our fears, I promise to remember.
Love and peace win in the end. How much better the world could be if they were also where we started…
Remember. Remember for all of those who too easily forget.