On Canadian Remembrance day (Nov 11) I wrote what I was thinking about the experience of standing at attention for 120 seconds in a coffee shop out of respect for all people who have served in our military, and the militaries of our allies – and then all of their families who by extension went through their own version of the uncertainty and hazards of warfare.
I put my best effort (in the time I had, before the work day demanded I get on with things) to express what I felt and thought. All opinions. I actually have a problem with the post, I can’t put my finger on it. I didn’t serve, some part of me feels no right to have an opinion.
I am supposed to feel grateful, but more than that, just to simply remember that a lot of our neighbours’ families have been changed by the need for military intervention somewhere in the world whether through death or injury or trauma or prolonged absence.
I do feel grateful – grateful that there are those with the courage to put themselves into dangerous environments so the rest of us can worry about deadlines and not having enough time to express themselves creatively through art. It seems absurd. It is absurd.
For me to talk at all about war being unnecessary and unfortunate is to simply state the obvious. We’re not living in a Star Trek Human future – at least not yet – and so remembering the service of veterans is not an abstract thing to wax philosophical about, but a real one to simply think hard about, and maybe act upon in some way.
I often re-read my own blogs, looking for the tone and the typos. I can post something thinking I probably have a typo in it and then read through it post-publish and find five, and then re-read it again the next day and find two more, and then do it immediately again and find three more, and then still find a typo or two in any given post I decide to revisit from that time onward, no matter how many times I do it.
Some of my own posts I enjoy re-reading occasionally (well done, keyboard!), but there are some – including my recent Remembrance Day post – that bother me. I annoy myself with my own words and stances, and the confidence I put behind them. I know I can sound like a complete blowhard at times.
I like words, I like practicing stringing them together to convey a rough approximation of what’s happening in my head in that moment. Sometimes the stuff that wants to come out is more than my fingers can manage. Sometimes my fingers lead my mind, because my mind has decided to go a-wandering mid-post or paragraph. What results is an aggregated opinion only, no matter how certain and confident and convicted I might appear to be or to feel. Sometimes I can sound pretty much all of those things, almost like I know what I’m talking about.
I really don’t know what I’m talking about. I have an opinion and then I have an opinion about my opinions. These secondary (though no less important) opinions – the ones about what I was first opinion-ing on – can change over time. The original opinion I was first trying to express gets gradually buried in the sediments of my memory. Your guess is as good as mine, what I might have once meant.
In this past post where I grappled (for less than an hour) on what Remembrance Day in Canada should make me feel and think, I think I felt mostly worry for our world, but also hopeful that we had the capacity to actually someday leave the practice of war behind, entirely.
There are nations and populations and leaders of those I’m sure all over this globe who might well agree, and others (especially the leaders) of some who would most certainly not. It is to guard the rest of us from the dangers presented by those leaders (the ones who are fine using their technological clubs to harass, intimidate, manipulate, and steal from the rest of us) that necessitates the having and using of militaries at all.
To the service people and their families in Canada in particular, I owe the most for my own personal safety and circumstances. To those from nations who are and have been our allies in conflicts (hot and cold), I also owe more than I could hope to repay. It’s the remembering of the sacrifices of those people specifically I am called on to practice and consider, and I do, though of course never enough, or for as long as they might deserve.
Where and with whom the thoughts go from there is hard to manage. We come back to the unfortunate fact of war, knowing it to be a problem in need of a solution. We can remember respectfully, and equally respectfully strive hard to not repeat.
I also I believe I did servicemen and women an accidental disservice by writing that post as though they themselves might not feel the same about the whole business. I just recognize that there is a tradition to remembering, and I’m not part of that world, so sometimes speaking less and thinking about gratitude and sacrifice more is the better approach – these are things I am still trying to learn how to do.
All of that up there is an example of the hazards of having opinions. This blog in fact can be broken into two general categories, all posts falling betwixt two poles:
FICTION <– Somewhere In-Between –> OPINION
I believe FACT can be found on the Internet somewhere, I occasionally link to external pages that might qualify as FACT, or eventually lead to some, but in fact there is none to be found here. As certain and convicted and wordy as I might ever allow myself to get, the implicit disclaimer (I would hope) that this is the Opinion of the Author Only comes attached firmly to every single post and pronouncement I might make.
What else can I make with words alone, but fictions and opinions, and some things in between? Fact is the domain of someone else entirely.