Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remember

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veteran's Day in the U.S. an important time for us all to stop and remember the carnage that was wrought by two world wars and all those who died. I like the idea of the day, paying homage to veteran's by remembering the effects of the wars, but it would be nice to see the idea expanded. Imagine, a day to devoted to remembering everyone who died "before their time." Too often the day becomes a commemoration of the nations states that went to war. The celebrations somehow sanitize death, making it palatable instead of remembering the carnage and pain that comes from such policies. 

At some point in the future nation-states which are a relatively new historical phenomenon will have run their course and we will look back at them aghast in the same way we look back now on the crusades. There are so many crimes committed to guarantee the continuance of nation-states. Imagine for a minute a world defined by corporations (I know this is not too far off) and armies hired by these corporations to fight for their cause, it would seem unpalatable, and yet that is what nation-states do. They raise armies from their own citizens and then to the drumbeat of nationalism send them to war to defend arbitrary boundaries, property or ideals. Nationalism is a form of modern tribalism writ large. It brings together groups of people under a political banner and gives them ideological ammunition to celebrate themselves at the expense of others. The darker side of nationalist impulses are tariffs, restrictions, persecution, borders, boundaries and of course war. The state always seeks to perpetuate itself not only as a political entity but also biologically celebrating children, heteronormativity by invoking paternalistic ideologies in the name of protection for its children and their futures. So much harms has been perpetrated in the name of protectionism. It is a depressing situation because nationalism and patriotism are so emotionally manipulative and powerful tarring anyone who refuses to march in unison to their powerful beat. 

Everyone who dies leave scars on those who remain behind. Death after all is hardest on those who remain. We need to jettison the hierarchy of death that permeates our culture. Certain deaths are valued more than others. The death of anyone, no matter who they are should never be privileged at the expense of anyone else. Instead I like to imagine a world where any death, irregardless of age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender or social status is deemed a loss for us all. After all these years I am still angry how the media and individuals responded to the deaths of gay men during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s. It is frustrating how the deaths of those considered expendable, gay men, aboriginal women, sex workers and addicts of all kinds are treated with disdain. The media rein scribes this hierarchy of death when the emphasis the loss of "innocent" victims, implying others are not "innocent". It would be nice to take time today to reflect and examine our views about death and life in general. To reflect on death in order to celebrate life. 

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