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No More Public Remembrance Day Ceremonies

In order to create peace and end humans harming humans, we need fresh thinking about how we publicly remember war. I have been discharging on my memories of Remembrance Day ceremonies. 

In Canada on November 11, in all three territories and six of our ten provinces, Remembrance Day is a public holiday. It commemorates November 11, 1918, when the First World War ended. Many shops and services and all schools are closed. Many people attend Remembrance Day ceremonies—often with their families, including the young people. 

When I was a young person, my schools held Remembrance Day ceremonies. I was required to attend along with all the other students and teachers. I noticed how bad all the adults felt, and there was some kind of unspoken requirement that the young people feel bad, too. The adults wanted us to act and feel solemn, serious, and sorrowful along with them. This was confusing, because I knew that wars were actually happening in other places in the world and I wondered why the adults were feeling so bad about war but not putting an end to it. The Remembrance Day ceremony became a ritual of adults rehearsing their bad feelings and passing them on to the young people. And because the adults were feeling so bad, they were less playful and less interesting and accessible to me.

At the same time that my rational mind was questioning the entire ceremony, a part of my mind that had been hurt by young people’s oppression was telling me, “There might be something good and useful going on1 here that I am too young to understand.” (I had been told repeatedly at home that I was too young to understand the world and the motivations and intelligence of adults, and this had made it difficult to trust my thinking.) Another tension in my young mind was, “The adults don’t seem to make any sense sometimes, yet I am forced to follow their lead for my survival.” This was extremely scary to face as a young person.

Sexism also fed my inability to trust my thinking. War and Remembrance Day were presented as an entirely male realm. The dead soldiers we were supposed to feel bad about were always male. War was shown to be something that men did to other men. The apparently important (because they were publicly recognized every year in a ritualistic ceremony) subjects of war and the military were male arenas. I wrongly perceived that they were subjects beyond my intelligence as a young female. 

War is the ultimate failure of human intelligence and is completely irrational and hurtful. Informing young people about war, and other irrational human behaviour, needs to be done thoughtfully, by giving tiny bits of information over long periods of time (weeks or years sometimes) and providing lots of opportunities for the young people to ask questions, share their thinking, and possibly discharge. (A lot of good thinking has been done in RC about sharing information with young people about the Shoah.2

As an adult I now have more accurate information about the world and know that vast numbers of women and children are casualties of modern war. I also know that war is used by corporations to make money off of armaments and is a tool of the owning class to have control over resources. Male-dominated Remembrance Day ceremonies that focus on the military and the loss of (almost always male) soldiers show us only a small picture of what war is and how it affects the world. And they restimulate and distract us, preventing us from looking honestly at a bigger picture that could help us untangle war. The incongruence with reality and the lack of truth are confusing and hurtful. 

Soldiers are precious human beings, just like every single one of us, and war takes these precious humans (mostly male) and uses them as living fuel to be chewed up in the machinery of our class society. Without the men’s oppression that convinces us that men are disposable, there would be no more war. Discharging on and ending men’s oppression and classism are the keys to ending war.

Instead of public Remembrance Day ceremonies, I would like to see gatherings for adults only in which actual healing can happen (in which discharge is openly explained and encouraged). In addition, the active creation of peace should be part of these gatherings. Relaxed intelligence, emotional awareness, and communication skills are what will keep us safe from violence. We also need to share accurate information with each other about the full impacts of war. We need to think, act, and discharge. None of those crucial three steps are happening at the public Remembrance Day ceremonies where I live. 

Kerri Wall
Fernie, British Columbia, Canada
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of wide world change

1 “Going on” means happening.
2 The Shoah is the Holocaust.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00