This weekend we consider the ending of one of the bloodiest conflicts in western history. One summary reads: “Contemporaneously described as “the war to end all wars”, [WWI] it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.”
The figures are mind blowing. New Zealand’s population even now is only 4.8 million, so many of these statistics are several times the size of our country. The numbers are not just bald statistics, they represent military and medical personnel and civilian men, women and children. They’re aunts, brothers, mothers, husbands, grandchildren, wives and sisters. They’re colleagues and neighbours and relatives. They’re real people who bled just like we do.
It is obviously desirable that we do not have deaths due to war, but can we have peace without any sort of conflict? One some issues a stand must be taken; matters of justice or fair play, of principle and boundaries, of safety and the obligation of care. When others deliberately or ignorantly trample on rights and procedures, are we to stand by and do nothing in order to simply keep the peace?
Looking back in my life, I am not very proud of moments when I did NOT act so everything would remain calm and people would not be angered. The result was ‘peaceful’, but it wasn’t right.
Nations and communities need to hone negotiating skills, conversational gambits, and diplomatic approaches to maintain a just peace. That means recognising and accepting another’s authority over our own. It may mean following or flouting rules, depending on how helpful and right they are. In all potential conflictual situations, it may mean swallowing pride. Sometimes it means feeling the fear and doing it anyway. In each situation we choose how we will act. Let us choose wisely.
Next week’s e news will be written by Lois Robertson. She will be bringing you details of the celebrations of St Andrew’s’ 180th anniversary in 2020. My last e news will be Friday 22nd. The following e news on November 29th will be written by your Interim Moderator, Rev Catriona Cairns.
This Sunday, as has been said, we commemorate Armistice. ‘Poppies red and white: calling an end”. See you there!
To view the full e-news click on this link: https://mailchi.mp/e7563203582b/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-3766237