Before I begin, I want to say that I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who went to war in WWI, WWII and the other actions we remember on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, of each year. Those who stood up for their principles, took risks and made sacrifices, for many the ultimate sacrifice. I was lucky, my Dad came back.
I do remember a little about those sacrifices however. I spent the first 5 years of my life without a father and I remember the stress and fear my mother endured as he sailed the North Atlantic on convoy escort duty. I remember living in a rural area with no car, little money and a partially built house with few neighbours and no children within walking distance; a pretty sparse childhood although it didn’t seem so at the time. I also remember hearing about the horror of the nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and going to bed every night for a decade or so wondering if the same thing might happen to us during the night. So I do not take writing about the great wars and the remembrance of them lightly.
While we continue to be faithful to the remembrance of wartime and those whose lives it changed and ended, we don’t seem to put the same kind of thought or effort into remembering what their wars were about and why they were willing to give their lives to prevail. Looking through an account of the advent of WWI, the reasons seem to boil down to Imperialism, Nationalism, Militarism and a few other “isms” all too familiar to us in the early 21st century. If we remembered the reasons and realized we were headed down an updated version of the same path, would we continue on? Almost certainly. But would that not be the ultimate dishonouring of the sacrifices made almost a century ago? What would the widows and orphaned children of the 16,000,000 killed in that effort have to say about the value of our remembrances?
It seems to me that for all those fathers, sons, brothers and uncles who joined up voluntarily to fight WWII the primary reason would have been to maintain a safe, happy and sustainable world for their families and descendants. So, how well has that worked out? Pretty well for half a century or so I would think.
Now, let’s look ahead and see what’s coming up for the next half century and beyond. In the context of the WWII world it was, and still is, easy to point to a concentration of evil in one person, Adolph Hitler, as the cause of the entire conflagration. With the exception of the celebrated Big Bang, reality has never been as simple as that. We are now at a point in the history of our species where ultimate power is being concentrated within another tiny group, euphemistically referred to as “The 1%”.
Where Hitler turned his lust for power on anyone who didn’t fit his mould of perfection and attempted to alter the face of humanity through murder and eugenics, this new group threatens to eliminate the species entirely (along with millions of others) through collateral damage to the biosphere caused by turning all the necessities of life into money, deposited to their accounts.
Often throughout my life this question would cross my mind – “What would life be like for me, at this point in time, if the “Allies” had lost WWII?” Part of one possibility might be glimpsed by reading this article although there is no way of connecting dots existing in so many dimensions. The article describes how Germany is making huge strides toward achieving 100% renewable energy, perhaps by 2050. Here’s a quote:
“This is a very American idea, . . . . . we got this from Jimmy Carter.”
“Germany adopted and continued Carter’s push for energy conservation while the U.S. abandoned further efforts. The death of an American [energy transformation] solidified when President Ronald Reagan ripped down the solar panels atop the White House that Carter had installed.”
World war II resulted in 60,000,000 deaths, those of “Allied” military personnel sacrificed for a just and sustainable world for future generations. We remember who, and perhaps how, but do we remember why?