Monday, May 27, 2013


Today is Memorial Day. I'll be frank with you, it's not a holiday I grew up with, and not one I'm accustomed to. While Canada looks a lot like the U.S. on paper, we really are our own beast, and while I appreciate the idea behind this day, I'm still trying to grok it. Back home, we have Remembrance Day, but the way we celebrate and even its place in the calendar (it's on November 11th) make it a difference sort of day.

Right now, Christy and Graeme are off at a formal Memorial Day service in Epsom while Brandon and I stay back - sitting still for a full hour isn't one of Brandon's strengths, and I'm scarcely better, so it seemed a good plan. Still, the whole day has me thinking about freedom. What it means to the soldiers I know, what it means to the veterans I've talked. What they died for.

I think of my grandfather. He died years after the war, a grandfather many times over, having accomplished much. I think of how he would've reacted to the Internet and how it's made us all closer and put us all further apart. I'm pretty sure he would've been a big lolcat fan (he loved his cats) but I realized, accidentally, the video that would've hit him closest to home.

One guy, travelling around the world and dancing with total strangers. One the Gaza Strip and in the heart of Israel. On tall mountains and down by the ocean - in the ocean, in one case. This is what he paid for with his sweat and blood in World War II. Freedom. Sure, there are greater and broader applications of that freedom. We're more mobile than ever, and goods we once though exotic are now commonplace. The long arc of justice has bent ever more sharply toward freedom in so many places in the world.

We might see a world full of violence and war and predation of man on man, but slavery is on the wane, global poverty is on the wane and, locally, disease is becoming a memory. But we have a long way to go and this is no time to slow down.

There's a dark side to this freedom. Some corporations - not all, but some - take advantage of the rise in globalism to manipulate the markets and cruelly manipulate foreign labour. Small people groups end up getting absorbed into larger people groups, bringing to an end cultural traditions and even languages that have lasted out centuries of mere military conflict. Too many military conflicts are fought not to spread freedom, but out of fear or greed. Ethnic warfare, which only have a century was the least cause of war, is now rampant in many parts of the world.

Still, I am confident that if my grandfather were here to see what his efforts, and the efforts of so many others, had gained, he would be pleased. The long arc bends, so long as there are people with the courage to keep pushing.

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