Last weekend Stuart McLean, host of the CBC radio program The Vinyl Cafe, told a story which reflected the horrors of war and also remembered the significant sacrifices which many individuals and families have made during times of war. Sacrifices which, in many cases, cost people their health and even their lives.
Apparently factual, McLean’s story was about a young Jewish man who lived in Poland at the start of World War II. He was soon taken from his home community and assigned to a labour crew for which the work was extremely hard and the living conditions extremely poor. Daily food rations were a bowl of soup and a piece of bread.
By the time the war was finally over, he weighed only 80 pounds. But he was alive, which most of his friends were not. Upon his return to his home community, he found that all his family members had been killed in the Holocaust. He now had nothing in this world but his life and the clothes on his back.
This is only one story illustrating the suffering and sacrifice that inevitably come with war. Many who have enlisted and gone to war, Mennonites and others, have come home with a profound sense that there must be better ways to resolve conflicts than through war.
Remembrance Day is an appropriate reminder of the many sacrifices that have been made in the pursuit of peace and freedom. It is also a good opportunity to renew a commitment to look diligently for peaceful methods of conflict resolution wherever possible.
Author Stuart Murray, in his book The Naked Anabaptist, says there is currently a significant and growing interest in Anabaptist theology in the United Kingdom. A particular point of interest is the Anabaptist position on peace.
While Mennonites have largely subscribed to the Anabaptist peace theology, they have at times struggled to apply that theology to all areas of life. Our family relationships, business partnerships and community dynamics have not always exemplified our peace position.
As we remember those who have suffered for the sake of peace in our world, let’s also examine our own personal commitment to peaceful conflict resolution and ensure that our family members, colleagues and neighbours will see a peace perspective reflected in our responses to them.