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In a post last week (Have we learned anything?,January 27, 2012) I noted the comments made by Stephen Harper and Barak Obama regarding International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

As we mourn those who were murdered by the Nazis more than six decades ago and honour the legacy of those who survived, let us use the lessons of the past to remind us of the importance of tolerance, and inspire us to take a stand against hatred and discrimination, including anti-Semitism in all its forms. We must never allow the crimes of the past to be repeated or forgotten.” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

We dedicate ourselves to giving meaning to those powerful words: Never Forget Never Again. As we celebrate the strength and resilience of survivors we pledge to stand strong against all those who would commit atrocities against the resurgence of anti-Semitism and against hatred in all forms”. President Obama of the United States

On the surface it appears that both these world leaders are caring souls who like me do not like to see people suffer unnecessarily and who believe that hatred does no one any good.  Noting the importance of tolerance and taking “ a stand against hatred and discrimination” and “never allow(ing) the crimes of the past to be repeated or forgotten” are admirable statements.

I however have difficulty accepting the sincerity of these statements and that of the politicians that have made them. It may be too simple to think that if they truly believed their well-crafted statements that imply that they do not want any more violence that they would also no longer initiate and support involvement in war and other acts of aggression that continue to be waged . Now I understand that Canada generally takes a “peace-keeping” role however even this is fraught with violence and aggression and results in many innocent people, including Canadian soldiers, losing their lives. The US on the other hand is often the initiator and major aggressor so how does that fit with being against hatred in all forms?

weapons of war

As I have noted in other posts I am ignorant about wars in general and have avoided following the news about them because it makes me frustrated and distressed. I do not understand the reason behind most if not all wars. I do not think that greedy motives or one person’s insane ideas should be enough to allow for mass aggression to be condoned. My ignorance though has not blocked my knowledge that many wars are initiated for economic reasons only although couched in the need to protect us from terrorism and nasty rulers in countries that we have no business being within in the first place. They are never initiated for the purpose of making the world a better place—how would it be possible for someone who wants a better world to kill innocent people? Does that not fly in the face of the goal of a better world?  Or are they saying that people of different races or creeds or of other countries are expendable? That they do not really count.

Being fairly uninformed about war I thought I would do a little research to determine if I could get a better sense about what wars are happening right now and why they are happening. I did not get to the why because I was overwhelmed with the what. Based on information supplied by the United Nations, currently within our world there are ten (10) ongoing wars that report fatalities of at least 1,000 per year plus another 32 ongoing wars that have fewer fatalities each year but continue the aggression and violence. I found this unfathomable. When I asked a few other people to tell me how many wars they thought were ongoing at this time none of them came even close to guessing the 42 as the figure.

someone help us

The US is openly involved in at least five of these wars and has dealings either openly or under the radar with many of the others particularly if they involve an economic prize such as oil. Stephen Harper’s Government either participates as well or openly supports the US involvement or is silent and thus complicit in this violence.  In the meantime the people of the US in particular are without public health care, without work and without hope. With all the money (close to a trillion dollars/year) spent on war and defence I guess it is difficult for a country to adequately fund social services, health care, employment, housing and education to help their own population. Maybe that is our destiny in Canada as well.

I would like to think that our leaders believe in tolerance and abhor discrimination, hatred and the violence that it spawns but I am have having a hard time doing so, it sounds like rhetoric to me.


Irene McDermott © 2012