Kansas City – I am a pacifist. I find myself in disagreement with violence, especially that special breed of violence that is of a homicidal nature. In a more general sense of the traditional argument, I do not agree with the just war theory as proposed by Augustine of Hippo. That being said, the one war, in fact the most savage and violent event in all of human history, that is the Second World War, is one area in which I find my disagreements most challenging to uphold.
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy. It was the beginning of the Liberation of Europe from the Nazis, and the end of their staining upon the face of humanity. D-Day was truly one of the last great events in which the majority of humanity were united as one in the stamping out of evil. Soldiers from Britain, the Commonwealth, France, and the United States crossed the Channel on that fateful day, the first of whom landed quite possibly 70 years ago exactly from the moment that I am writing this sentence (Midnight in Chicago, 06.00 in London.) Alongside them were many other fine people who had escaped from their home countries then occupied by the Nazis, to keep the fire of freedom burning in exile.
Now, 70 years on, we have a good opportunity to recall their brave sacrifice and determination to see an end to Nazism. Today is an excellent time to consider our own positions in the span of history. How do we in 2014 best live to preserve freedom? How do we today strive to keep our society safe for dialogue in the present and amongst future generations? I began by declaring my own views regarding violence. At this moment in this editorial, I feel it necessary to beg the question, not just to my American audience, but to my readership in the rest of the world: Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers defeated Nazism, which evils are there in our own world that need defeating?
From my own perspective, which I admit is a bit left of centre on the American political spectrum, the greatest evil which we as humans still need to face is the weaponisation of fear. Despite the War’s ending 69 years ago, we are still bombed each and every day. Only now, those bombs do not directly, physically slaughter. Rather, these verbal bombs, these armoured words are dropped upon us all every day. Look no further than the fear mongering that comes from the more extreme mouthpieces of our media and political class. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of some of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War, a war which still impacts this country just as much as it did when it was being fought. Even now, the United States is divided culturally, socially, and politically along the same exact lines as it was in the 1850s and 1860s.
This country has come so very far from the unity that it experienced during the Second World War. Sometimes I do wonder if we give the men and women who worked against Nazism and Fascism proper honour and respect. Our actions in the present are modelled in at least a minimal manner upon the deeds of the past. But also they are shaped by the years in between, by the joys and sorrows, the optimism and cynicism alike. Today the United States is a very cynical nation. Then again, it would appear that in general the West has become quite cynical over the past few decades.
Let us honour the memory of D-Day by working together to keep the flame of freedom burning as bright as it ever has. It will require us to keep the dialogue going. Most importantly though, to truly honour those veterans and their fallen comrades in their struggle for liberty, let us embrace everyone. Let all people be free to be whomever they are.