One hundred years ago today, a war ended. And a handful of diplomats began working to create a world in which such violence would no longer exist.
Today, we remember.
We remember the children, women, and men who died for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We remember the soldiers who fought and killed, trying to live their values.
We remember the individuals who decided that their values required working toward an end to the violence more than the vanquishing of another worldview.
We remember the lessons learned.
We remember that those lessons have been forgotten, and relearned, and forgotten again in other wars.
We remember that, while they are not named “World Wars”, other incarnations of political violence and structural injustice continue to kill and harm by the thousands.
We remember the soldiers neglected by a system that doesn’t care well for its veterans.
We remember the fathers sorrowed by empty arms that will never again hold a daughter who didn’t come home from the front.
We remember the children gunned down in our streets by the same hatred that makes killing on such a large scale possible.
We remember our complicity in creating and reproducing systems that make war an everyday reality, rather than a “never again” memory.
We remember our guilt.
We also remember our hope. We remember the inspiration of Malala, Ruby, and Emma - children who worked to show us that they believe in something better.
We also remember our strength. We remember the change created by Mahatma, Wangari, and Martin - leaders who marched to demonstrate that we too hold power.
We also remember our compassion. We remember the difference made by Harriet, Oskar, and Teresa - caregivers who laboured to alleviate suffering.
And maybe, just maybe, if we remember enough, we’ll learn this time. And more of us will be Malalas and Wangaris and Harriets, and fewer of us will be soldiers and victims and mourners.