On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1914, some people signed an armistice. They agreed to cease hostilities. This piece of paper was hailed as a major breakthrough, as it signalled the end of the war that ‘would end all wars’. There was a belief, as I understand it, that the horrors of twentieth century were so great, that no one would be tempted to start another. Since then? Even more horrific wars, and hardly any time at all when someone somewhere was not at war. We cannot commemorate armistice day with any integrity until warfare is seen to be uncivilized and barbaric: something they did in the old days but we don’t do now.
It is not enough to post up pictures of poppies, and recite old poems about how glorious it all was, and how fantastic it all is. It wasn’t glorious. It isn’t fantastic. Warfare is horrific, it is barbaric, it is a blight on our fallen world. It is begotten by hate and greed. It produces devastation, famine and despair.
If we remember anything at all, we should be remembering all the people, in any place, or any time, who negotiate for an armistice, all the people who currently work so hard to build bridges between divided communities, to promote peace between communities, and between nations, and we should be working hard to become those people, to become peacemakers for a better world.
“and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down , and when thou risest up . “