Friday, April 25, 2014

ANZAC day - a variety a views

Just watching Facebook today, there are a variety of views on how to express what ANZAC day means.

The lest we forget school does things pretty simple; we remember those that died at war. This is appropriate. I've not seen any extolling of militarism, glorifying of war or whitewashing of the horror.

The second is to point out how horrible war is, its connection to refugees, the large amounts of money this government is spending while cutting services to the disadvantaged and those for the public good. You might see this as politicising ANZAC day, or as making the right connections. If we remember the losses in times of violence properly, why do we lock up those who flee it and then do nothing to damn those who perpetrate it (in Sri Lanka for example).

A third group I've seen are Christian, Anabaptists, who point out that violence doesn't ultimately bring peace, and that Christ calls us forward to something more. Killing is sin, regardless of when and where it occurs. War is a failure of diplomacy; it should be avoided at all costs. Not believing in just war, the call is for an end to all conflict.

Sadly though, we don't live in Eden or yet in the new creation consummated. And we do live in a period of relative peace (for us in Australia at least), where war has played a role in that. We should always call governments to account to avoid war, and want our troops home sooner   but beware of the 20/20 vision of hindsight and recognise that at times, people be they soldiers or politician did the best with where they found themselves. This isn't to whitewash history or violence; simply acknowledge history is complex.

Finally, there is the more conservative Christian response to want compare the Easter sacrifice of Jesus to those of the soldier on ANZAC day. They might lament that more people celebrate the later rather than the former in Australia. One might accuse them of religious profiteering off of a day of mourning. You might also question deeply the understanding of what Jesus' sacrifice meant. Was he punished by God on a cross, or did he defeat the powers of sin, evil and death by facing their full wrath? If it is mostly or solely the former, it is hard not to see violence in our own hands as able to be justified readily.

Rome was the greatest military power of its day, and in the cross we can see the evils of all empires who use violence to coerce and rule. If death is defeated, the empires have no ultimate power, and yet if they have no ultimate power, we are free to challenge their proximate power. This should be with non-violence.

So ANZAC day will always mean different things to different people, always reflecting a view of the world or an agenda to push. Lest we forget should be that act of remembering the tragedy of war and the loss of people on all sides, so that we can truly honour them and avoid future wars at all costs. And peace always starts with us. The peace people believed they were fighting, and some died for,  does not consist of freshly condemning the innocent, or rushing back into violence.

Lest we forget.

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