A future that's worth not fighting for

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the civilians who had bombs dropped on them
I remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and napalm
I remember the children who lost their parents
and the parents who lost their children
I remember the justifications and lies told by politicians:
old lies, new lies,
from "dulce et decorum est" to "weapons of mass destruction",
all flavours of lie, new lies for a new generation,
lies for every occasion,
whatever kind of lie takes your fancy.

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the courage of those who have refused to take up arms;
the courage to face up to the stigma of cowardice.
I remember the conscripts who were shot for refusing to kill or refusing to walk into a blood bath
I remember the stupidity of generals
the ulterior motives
the attempt to control of the world's resources
the complicity of religious leaders,
I remember the profiteering of arms manufacturers
I remember the evil perpetrated by people who were
"only following orders",
or just doing their nine-to-five to feed their families.

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the pomp and circumstance that makes it all seem so glamorous.
I remember the foolishness of young men,
who bought the latest marketing for state sponsored killing and world domination,
who got sucked in by slogans like, "U.N. peace-keepers",
"global policemen", "preventing genocide and preventing ethnic cleansing",
"standing up for the weak against the powerful" (failing to notice that it is us who are the powerful, and them who are the weak)

I remember the naivety of teenagers
who always wanted to drive a tank or a jet fighter and didn't think about what they might have to use it for,
who watched Top Gun too many times when they were kids,
who came from a military family and no one ever taught them any better,
who couldn't think of anything better to do with their lives than join up and suffered from an education system that failed to help them find anything,
who instinctively knew that uniform equals pussy.

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the future we could have
if we all simply refused to kill
if we all simply refused to take part in the killing
if we only ever played violent games with people who had consented to play them with us
if we gave up the option of using our superior military strength to dominate the world's flow of wealth and resources
if we refused to rise to the terrorists' bait
and refused to fall to terrorists' level
if we refused to waste our lives getting sucked into petty fights over who has the best ideology
or the best brand of mythic god,
or the most right to a particular plot of land,
if we stopped trying to make up for our laziness and boneheaded inability to innovate,
by stealing other countries oil and other natural resources,
which if we only would put our minds to it we could quite happily live without.

On Remembrance Day,
I remember the courage it takes to oppose the status quo:
That unquestioned social agreement that dying in horribly painful ways while obeying orders merits honour and respect and gratitude,
when actually it only merits sympathy or compassion;
the unquestioned assertion that I and my community benefit from "freedoms" that exist by virtue of the sacrifices the ones who have died made;
the courage it takes to refuse to honour or respect soldiering or terrorism of any kind and certainly not when it is voluntary.
I remember how that marks me out to be ostracised and derided;
how our society is oriented around the blind acceptance that war may be a dirty job, but someone has to do it, and they should be respected for that.

It does not require courage to fight;
it only requires our collective stupidity.
What requires courage is refusing to fight,
and refusing to honour people who do.
It requires courage to stand for the resolution of conflict
without recourse to violence,
when everyone around you is saying that is not possible.
Real courage requires facing up to the risk of vulnerability.
Real courage is something that the world is rarely witness to.
But every now and then
somebody, somewhere, adds their name
to the list of the truly courageous,
and puts their life on the line not to beat an enemy,
but to take a chance on the possibility of a new world.


On Remembrance Day,
I remember what we could do with our lives if we lived in a world where violence only occurred between consenting adults.
I remember what could be possible if we used our creativity to make the world a better place.

And I remember a future that is worth not fighting for.

Poetry by Andrew Bindon
Read 866 times
Written on 2010-01-20 at 12:01

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Anne Westlund
What a heartfelt poem! Thanks for sharing that.