“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Greatest Remembrance of All

Part of a prayer by Unitarian minister Rev. Chris Goacher reads: "We gather in remembrance of those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom and safety of others, but also in shame at the wars we have failed to stop and the actions taken in our name ... Let us dedicate our selves to the greatest remembrance of all - that war should be no more."

These few words really sum up my feelings on Remembrance Sunday - that we should be grateful to, and remember with respect, those who sacrificed their lives that we might have peace; but also in sad reflection on the indifferent use we have made of it. it is a desperate irony that World War One was called 'The War To End All Wars', and yet, one hundred years on, humankind still seems unable to stop the fighting, the bloodshed, the cruelty, and wars continue to be fought the world over, for reasons of fear, and misunderstanding, the hunger for power, and the despising of the other.

So how can we dedicate ourselves to that "greatest remembrance of all - that war should be no more?" How can we, as individuals, and as spiritual and religious communities, witness for peace? How can we 'do our bit'? How can we make a difference?

I think we have to start where we are. It's all about compassion - trying to empathise with other people by imagining ourselves in their shoes. I am not naive enough to believe that we can "make it all better" by witnessing for peace and compassion. But we can at least try to be compassionate, where we are. For every other person we encounter is also a human being, a child of God, utterly worthy of being treated with justice, equity and respect.

Perhaps we can each make a resolution to reach out in friendship to our neighbours, to our friends, and even to casually-met strangers. Perhaps if we witness for peace in our own lives, this might have a knock-on effect, as the people we show compassion to, show compassion to others in their turn and so on.Who knows what we might be able to achieve, if we are brave enough to reach out in friendship, reach out in compassion, witness for peace?