Tag Archives: day

In Flanders Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

~Lt Col John McCrae (3 May 1915)

Opting Out of Remembrance Day


A recent controversy being discussed in the Canadian media is the fact that parents can ask that their children be allowed to “opt-out” of school Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day as it is sometimes known, is observed on November 11 in most commonwealth countries around the world.  The day and time – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – were chosen to commemorate the official end to hostilities in the First World War.  The primary purpose of the day though, is to honour the fallen soldiers who were not lucky enough to return home from the battlegrounds in Europe.  Over time the ceremony has evolved and it is now generally a time to remember and pay homage to all of our veterans both living and dead.  It is one day of the year when the country comes together in a moment of silence to pay respect to the soldiers who have given their lives, and the soldiers who continue to risk their lives, to protect their fellow citizens.

For me, Remembrance Day goes far beyond honouring our veterans and their fallen comrades.  To me it is about freedom.  That is the cause that these brave men and women fought and died for.  It is a cause that is shared by soldier and civilian alike and fought for by both, albeit in different ways.  It stretches back well before the two great wars.  It’s a battle that has been fought continuously since the dawn on human civilization.  It is a perpetuation of the struggle between those who would live free and those who wish to control them.

Freedom is a cause that is so much bigger than the conflicts of the 21st Century.   The battle has raged for millennia, being fought between nations, within nations and even within families.  Governments have been toppled, nations conquered and families torn apart.

Freedom is such a simple word, but it seems to be a surprisingly difficult concept for many to understand.  Freedom isn’t about supporting the rights of only the people whose opinions and beliefs of those with whom you agree.  Freedom is about supporting the rights of everyone, especially those with whom you disagree.

The outcry caused by this rarely used school policy has clearly shown how little some people understand the true meaning of freedom.  There have been calls to make the ceremonies mandatory, to ‘force’ people to pay their respects on Remembrance Day.   These vocal few wish to honour the sacrifices of those who died in the name of freedom by taking away a freedom.

It needs to be pointed out that there are two very different groups who may choose to opt-out.  The first group is made up of those who are entirely opposed to Remembrance Day, be it religious, social or other reasons.  While I don’t agree with their position, I wholeheartedly support their right to it.   Opponents to this school policy claim that allowing students to opt-out of the ceremony goes against everything that our soldiers have fought and died for.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Those who choose to opt-out are paying the highest honour to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives.  They are exercising the very freedom that those brave souls fought and died for.

The second group are those people who fully support the day, but for whatever reason can’t or don’t want to attend a ceremony.  While Remembrance Day services are generally a good thing, it needs to be remembered that the pomp and tradition are really only the trimmings.  The meat of the day is taking the time to appreciate the freedoms that we currently enjoy and giving thanks to all the people throughout history who have fought and died for those freedoms.   It’s not necessary to attend a ceremony to appreciate and honour those sacrifices.   We all have the right to pay our respects in our own way, and the traditional Remembrance Day service is only one possible way to do so.

Tomorrow morning at 11:00, while I observe a moment of silence, I will not only pay my respects to the fallen, I will also acknowledge the people who are choosing not to observe that moment.  Those people are the proof that we still have at least some freedoms left for which to give thanks.

Political Correctness vs Democracy


Today we are urged to pause and ponder the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. It occurred to me that our soldiers fought a war with weapons (of which type it isn’t politically correct to mention by name) to stop a dictatorial regime (whose name isn’t politically correct to mention), who’s leader disarmed the race of people (who we don’t want to offend by mentioning) by registering and licensing their weapons (which we don’t want to mention for fear of offending anyone) prior to confiscation. Once that State held a monopoly on weapons it was easy for it to accomplish its ‘cleansing.’ In fact, the twentieth century saw eight major genocides preceeded by civilian disarmament rid the world of over 150 Million civilian lives.  During the World Wars, we realized that protecting innocent lives from genocide (can we mention that?) was a duty, and our brave citizens stepped up and sacrificed their lives for what we, collectively, believed.

I now wonder in this day of political correctness if there is anything we are willing to fight for. Sixty years later, in a bold denial of history, the United Nations is pushing a global Small Arms Treaty in the name of peace that will disarm civilian populations and leave a monopoly of firepower in the hands of the State – and criminal thugs (or is that redundant?) Sometimes Remembrance Day is a reminder of all we’ve forgotten.

~Keith Linton~

The above letter was written by a friend of mine in honour of Remembrance Day and submitted to several major newspapers across the country.  Unfortunately, it never made it to print.  I’m posting it here not just because it’s an excellent letter, but because it touches on so many points.  As much as I’d like to delve into what I think of the UN and the idea of civilian disarmament, today I’m going to focus on political correctness.  I think this letter is a beautifully satirical representation of what being PC has done to our society.

To put it quite bluntly, I think that political correctness is one of the biggest threats to democracy in our world today.  But, ironically, it’s not politically correct to discuss political correctness.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, allow me to take a step back and define “political correctness”.  It has its roots in Marxism-Leninism and has been in regular use since the 1960s.  However, it didn’t become “fashionable” until the 1990s when its use exploded.  The term “politically correct” was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1936, where it is defined as: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.  

In this age of “emotional enlightenment” when everyone is encouraged to express their feelings, we have become so oversensitive to causing offense to others, that our society has almost ground to a halt.  Nobody is willing to make the difficult decisions anymore because to do so is to guarantee that somebody somewhere will have their feelings hurt.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned with other people’s feelings, but political correctness has gone way too far.  What began as an attempt to minimize social offense against certain minority/underprivileged groups, has evolved into a form of thought control and social engineering.  

Wait a second, did I say “thought control”? Yes, I did.  Political correctness doesn’t just impact the way we speak, it also affects the way we think.  When we are constantly thinking about whether or not we “should” be saying something, it changes how we think in general.  Instead of focussing on the ideas, we become focussed on the language being used to share those ideas.

Also, as much as our PC-trained minds tend to protest the fact, it’s no secret that some special interest groups are more equal than others, and that all special interest groups are more equal than the average citizen.  So, now we’re not just arguing over language, we’re also arguing over whose offended feelings take precedence in the PC battleground that we’ve created.

And while we’re busy arguing about whether or not the language is correct or whose feelings were hurt the most, the ideas get lost in the confusion.  Without the ideas, our society becomes stuck in an endless loop, forever arguing over words and feelings instead of moving forward with a purpose.  Most people are oblivious to this phenomenon, but there are many who are not only aware of it, they have no qualms about using it to their own advantage (this is where the “social engineering” part comes into play)

Vocal special interest groups hoard funding and push agendas in the name of some politically correct theme, playing on people’s fears and emotions.  They do this knowing it will take a brave soul to speak out against their cause.  After all, who would argue for greater privacy in the face of the scourge of child pornography? Who would argue for more freedom in the battle against “terrorism?” Who will push for gun rights even as deadly gang wars are waged on our streets?

It is the favoured tactic of the manipulator to frame her cause in such a way that her detractors, with their often insightful arguments, risk an affront to the PC Gods. It doesn’t matter that those detractors may be right – political correctness has become a weapon.

So what does the letter I quoted above have to do with all of this?  It all comes down to the line, “I now wonder in this day of political correctness if there is anything we are willing to fight for.”

Fear of social censure is no less damaging to a populace than fear of government/police retribution.  We, as a society, have become unwilling to voice our opinions for fear of offending people. We are unwilling to fight for what we believe in because we have been taught that our ideals must always be secondary to the feelings of others.  In that fear, we are no longer able to openly discuss the issues that impact our society.  When we cannot openly discuss an issue, it can never be solved. 

How long can we survive as a society when the important issues are ignored and swept under the rug?  And how can we claim to live in a democracy when the people are unwilling and/or unable to speak their mind?