I think it is a little strange that some of us who have shown compassion and support for the Australians recently executed in Bali have been criticised for not showing as much attention to the Anzacs. This happened to the songwriter/singer Guy Sebastian the other day when he wrote a song about those poor souls. I believe he wrote it from a heart full of compassion for his brothers. He actually did honour the Anzacs in his own humble way, he just didn’t advertise it.
My father fought in WW2 serving in the British Navy, his brother died as a Japanese POW worked and starved to death on the infamous Burma Railroad. His father served as a sniper in WW1 (killed many “nasty” Germans), my Scottish great grandfather was apparently some type of Boer war hero and is now buried at Stirling Castle. My maternal Grandfather was in the elite Welsh Guard storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, saw his best friend die with a bullet to the head and suffered much trauma and deprivation. He shared his personal accounts with this wide eyed young boy in the 1970’s. I cannot forget the look in Granddads eyes as he shared these harrowing tales as though they were still happening.
I cannot take any pride in the war history of my ancestors, there is no badge of honour. I choose not to rise for an early morning dawn service or wear any of my Dads medals, that is my choice.
War is an abominable, treacherous beast and I don’t think we should ever celebrate it in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I know for most people it is about a respectful remembrance, I get that. But I also see signs of some who want celebrate and take pride in the the war history of their ancestors.
My Father (now in his late 80’s and suffering Alzheimer’s Disease) certainly never marched or took part in any of these remembrance activities. I don’t recall my Grandfather did either. They all hated war. My Dad still talks about “the warmongers”. It’s true that there are those who seek war and prosper from it. Profiteering from war is one the worst of humanities sins against each-other.
Please understand that I am not saying we should not honour the Anzacs, I certainly think there is a place for that. And as humans it gives us some comfort to honour the dead in various ways. It’s good to remember them, but I think most importantly it is good to remember the futility of war. But don’t judge me because I don’t partake of these ceremonies the same way that you do.
I fully agree that we should never forget the horrible injustice and suffering that happened in WW1 & WW2. It was an appalling unprecedented loss of life and suffering, such a horrible mess, but let us recognise the truth that it wasn’t just made by “the baddies”, it wasn’t all just good versus bad. It was made by us, yes US human beings.
We don’t want to talk about the millions of people killed by the English in India and Ireland or the mistreatment of Australian aborigines because that is just too uncomfortable. Australia is part of the British commonwealth and apparently we are the good guys.
Not everyone will accept these truths, especially commonwealth people with a proud and superior ‘them and us’ separatist attitude. But the reality is that we can’t just blame The German Kaiser, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Mussolini, Hitler and the Japanese. WE! …all human beings need to own that horrible mess.
On the same day that Australians were storming the beaches of Gallipoli the Turks were implementing an appalling genocide of Armenian people that would total up to 1.5 million dead, yet we never talk about that because it didn’t directly affect us. Turkey has still not admitted its wrong doing in that terrible rape and butchering of innocent men women and children.
So. Let us remember the terrible suffering and loss of our brothers and sisters, the 8,100 Australians who died at Gallipoli, the 62,000 Australians who died in WW1, the 27,000 Aussies who died in WW2, these were appalling losses for a country with such a small population. But let us also remember the 2 million German women and children who were brutally raped by Russian soldiers (they were on our side), the 60 million who died under Stalin, the 6 million Jewish holocaust victims, the Armenians who were all but wiped out, the Poles who were on our side but we’re still enslaved for another ten years by our allies after WW2, the half a million refugees, men, women and children who were horribly killed by torturous incendiary bombing raids in Germany by British and U.S. Bombers. The 300,000 Chinese people that were brutally butchered (mostly with bayonets) in Nanking (as well as 20,000 women and girls raped) by Japanese soldiers, 50 million who died under Chairman Mao, I could go on, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur et al. Such untold misery and appalling waste of precious life that happened from both sides.
When I was in Edinburgh Scotland earlier this year my wife and I read a plaque on an old church wall that told the story of a 17 year old boy who was hung for blasphemy a few hundred years ago. When I read that I imagined living in those days and my son being executed for such a menial misdemeanour. Yes I imagined my beloved son Joshua or Jared being up on those gallows, just thinking about made my eyes well up in tears, I choked up a bit. That’s the loving heart of a father. I choked up because I realised that it actually happened to some poor parents. It happened in Edinburgh and many places multiple times all over the the world.
The warmongers will count numbers of lost and feed more to their terrible fate, but the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and lovers will forever grieve the terrible loss of just one. Murder, execution, killing, genocide, annihilation, extermination, massacre and death. Us humans should never ever implement murder against our brothers and sisters. Not one, not hundreds, thousands or millions. Not even for two sorry lost souls who were executed in Bali earlier this week. It is all disgusting, horrible and appalling.