Armistice Day: a reflection on peace
November 11, Armistice Day in many countries, marks the end of the First World War after unprecedented devastation. This observance offers the human family an opportunity to reflect on peace, generally, and the implications of our personal mindsets.
The two world wars demonstrated a human capacity to find new ways to destroy each other by the millions. The 20th century saw more than 100 million people killed as a result of these and other minor internal and international hostilities.
It’s easy to blame that tragic track record on those people; but we all have a part to play in shifting this warring mindset. Accessing our self-awareness, is a step towards that goal.
I was reminded of this during the September visit by Hurricane Paulette. Two of our grandsons spent the night at our home during that storm and I took the role of sitting with the five and three-year-old to encourage them to go to sleep. As the stormy conditions whipped up outside, sleeping was the farthest thing from the minds of these two boys. I found myself becoming increasingly impatient — a warring mindset.
After some time, it hit me that I was hosting a storm in my mind — reacting to the boys. That awareness allowed me to return to peace. Within a few minutes of my awakening, our grandsons fell off to sleep. I need to add that at that time, the stormy winds seemed to subside. I had reminded myself of the benefits of an armistice mindset.
We all have an interest in shifting our personal mindset, fostering a culture of peace, given global circumstances. After the tragedies of the past century, the new millennium has continued the tragic trend:
• The United States has waged two major wars in the Middle East: invading Iraq, targeting weapons of mass destruction and has spent the last two decades warring in Afghanistan. An estimated 750,000 lives have been lost and $1.3 trillion has been spent in these hostilities alone.
• President Dwight Eisenhower — a hero of the Second World War — in his goodbye speech to his nation, warned the American people of the “military industrial complex”. He noted that a powerful lobby, which profited from war, pushed a policy that made military action the likelier option in resolving conflict. That warrior was calling for an armistice mindset — but his warning hasn’t yet brought change.
In Bermuda, we can all do our part in promoting an armistice mindset in the way we relate to one another. This includes maintaining a sense of reverence for each other in our families, neighbourhoods, workplaces and wider communities. This will be increasingly important as we navigate the challenges of the new normal.
Of course, this conversation has direct implications for those young people in the island who are caught up in gang conflict. There is evidence that this conflict is collateral damage from the “war on drugs”. An armistice in that regard could lead to transforming the approach for addressing substance abuse — from the criminalising, punitive model to that of a health and welfare model, as is showing positive results in jurisdictions such as Portugal.
Collectively, we can play a part in the implications of the “war on the planet”, doing our part to sustain the environment.
In reflecting on that 100-year-old armistice, we are reminded that there is some way that each of us can play some part towards a peaceful planet.
• Glenn Fubler represents Imagine Bermuda