November 11, 1918. Armistice Day. The day that ended World War 1--the war to end all wars--the war that opened one of the bloodiest centuries in history. We are a lot less idealistic than our fore bearers were then. Cynical even. Wars will never end. That's biblical, isn't it? Jesus said the end times will be marked by wars and rumors of wars. As I write, the news is of Iran's nuclear capability. I tremble to think of what such a fanatical government would do with that kind of power. So should we invade? Look what happened as a result of our last attempt to stop the use of "mass weapons of destruction"? Call me cynical.
The British commemorate Remembrance Day like we Americans do Memorial Day--honoring veterans and those who died in wars. Everyone buys poppies to support the veterans assistance funds. The year I was researching Glastonbury Tor, the churches in Meare held a combined prayer service in the square (where I had my character Nicholas confined in the stocks). 11 AM, the time when the 1918 armistice went into effect, is marked by two minutes of silence across the Commonwealth. Even the cars on the road stopped for those two minutes.
As a child I memorized the 1915 poem, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ between the crosses, row on row" by Dr. John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in France. It seems that poppies grow only in disturbed soil. The very horror of war caused the fields to bloom prolifically in the spring. It is a very moving poem, but today the final stanza makes me shiver: "Take up our quarrel with the foe: / To you from failing hands we throw / The torch; be yours to hold it high"--a call to keep on fighting, to continue the war rather than search for peace. Afghanistan has been fighting for more than thirty years, passing the torch from one generation to another. Palestinians and Israelis can both recite the wrongs done them by the other side, and call us faithless if we do not join their cause.
I am torn between honoring the dead who gave their lives for a cause they believed in, and abhorring war. I am grateful for my freedom, but appalled at the abuses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay--abuses carried out by "the good guys." As a college student I remember attending an anti-war rally, but free sex, abortion "rights" and I don't remember what-all were lumped in as though they were all the same issue and anyone opposed to war would naturally be in favor of the others. It didn't follow logically, and it certainly didn't follow biblically. I never went to another rally.
How do I support the people of the armed forces, some of whom I know personally and care about? How do I respect their commitment to what they believe, while opposing the continuation of violence? Call me a cynic, but my BBC home page and the evening news are clarion calls to prayer. I see no other answer than trusting the God who loves people on all sides of a conflict and abhors evil, even in his own people.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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