Memorial Day will be here soon. But, how many of us know the purpose of the holiday? Or take time to do what the holiday was created for us to do? Why does this matter, and does it matter?
This post asks you to give some of your time this Memorial Day to consider two things – gratitude for those that fought to bring about the freedoms we enjoy today, and when should war and the killing of other human beings be allowed.
The Kohima epitaph is carved on the memorial of the 2nd British Division in the cemetery of Kohima in North-East India and reads:
‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’John Maxwell Edmonds
If you will take a few moments to understand the feeling of that sentence, it will move you. Personally, I cannot imagine giving my life for anyone beyond my family, let alone watching one of my children die in a war. It is actually difficult to comprehend that other people have.
Freedom is a big deal, and I am truly grateful to the brave people that fought to give me this important right. There is great value in remembering these brave people. It is also important to recognize and respect the difficult moral choices humans have had to make. Important to appreciate and give thanks to the values that got created from those choices, and the sacrifices so many took to protect them. One day of appreciation and gratitude is not much to ask each year.
Perhaps on that day we can also do our own small part and work on our civic and human duties. We have become quite complacent in this regard. What I mean by this is that we should participate actively in upholding the important rights we have acquired thus far, and work toward greater human evolution by ‘weighing in’ on important decisions about morality and human rights. To do that we must form opinions about what values are important and how we as a species should make the difficult choices that must get made by humans. You need to participate in this task by going deeply within and finding your own values and beliefs. What will you stand up for? Do not take the easy way out and simply agree with the status quo or consensus, work harder and find what you truly believe.
It is easy to say there is never a time for war or killing another human. That is what we all must hope. But is that choice realistic? Are we, as a species, evolved to that level yet? No we are not. This is sad but must not stop you from looking honestly at what your own actions might be if people came into your home and took your children or murdered your family? Because if there is ever a time for killing another human, or for war, we must carefully consider our feelings about that topic. And then speak honestly about the opinion we have formed. That is our human duty. And that should make us want for the evolution that must happen so that no human would kill another human.
Like our own death, these are things we prefer not to dwell upon. Perhaps we feel that we have already considered these things and formed an opinion. Perhaps we just do not think our opinion would have value. But spending time once a year to reflect on our opinions surrounding human evolution and morality is our duty, each and every one of us. It is too easy and too dangerous to just go with public opinion, which is often formed by small groups. We must regularly go deeply within and find our own beliefs, our own morality, our own hopes and dreams for the human species.
The world we live in today is miraculously tilted toward goodness, despite the violence that still persists. Looking through a thousand year lens quickly shows us that we are making progress, we are learning to get along better, and the path of growth so far is moving toward less violence. We are evolving toward a humanity where all people have quality food, water, shelter, medical care, education, and freedom, something we are quite capable of achieving today. And why haven’t we? It is insane in my mind that every human does not already have these basic rights. What about you?