For me, Remembrance Day is always a time of reflection and introspection. This year my ponderings gelled into the following conclusions:

I believe it is important for us to remember the many people who have stepped forward to defend our country’s freedoms. Many have done so because of their love for Canada and a profound sense of duty in times of unusual challenges. Regardless of motivation, they consciously stepped into dangerous circumstances and demonstrated their commitment to the retention of freedoms in our land. Many gave their health and even their lives for the greater cause. One can’t help but admire such courage.

I believe it is important for us to remember the many conscientious objectors who also chose to serve their country, but in other ways. They served in health-care facilities, built national parks, fought forest fires, planted trees, etc. Many did so because of their moral and religious convictions regarding the taking of human life. Regardless of motivation, they spoke into society’s conversations of the day and made significant economic contributions to our country. In many cases, a portion of their wages was turned over to the Red Cross. Many spent months, even years, in alternative-service work camps, away from family and careers, as their contribution to our country’s exceptional needs. One can’t help but admire such commitment.

I believe it is important for us to practice and promote peaceful methods of conflict resolution, even to the point of significant personal hardship. The life of Jesus, as reflected in the Scriptures, is exemplary in its attention to peace and reconciliation. War has typically required the sacrifice of many lives on all sides of the conflict -- lives of family members who otherwise still had much to contribute to their respective homes and societies. Not only are efforts toward peaceful conflict resolution important in relationships between countries and ethnic groups, they are also important in our homes, communities, churches and workplaces. A relationship in conflict tends to be weak and non-productive, whereas a relationship that has seen its conflict resolved in a mutually beneficial way is a strong relationship. Peaceful conflict resolution may not always be possible, but I believe we must pursue it relentlessly, and I will continue to pursue win-win solutions for conflicts which touch my own life.

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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