Today on November 11th 2020, we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic and a bitter U.S. election whose results are still being contested, and we may think to ourselves, could war be any worse. But of course, we know the answer. Our masks are not gas masks, our likelihood of surviving is 99.5% even if we contract the virus, and while we are greatly inconvenienced by a shortage of our favorite snacks, or paper towels and other necessities, they are far from life-threatening.
But as I read my last few Remembrance Day messages, I realize that the surreptitious threats we face today in preserving our way of life, and yes, our “Western civilization”, are still substantial. The most critical to preserve is our freedom of speech, on which our democracy is built and for which the fallen gave their lives.
We are at risk, due to what has become a dominant theme in the universities and even the primary schools. It is an idea that holds that saying something that others disagree with is a “micro-aggression”. Shockingly, university students and professors do not welcome debate – instead they expect from us blind acceptance of the mantras made popular by social media and movements that delegitimize anyone who criticizes them.
We must ask ourselves, is that what our fallen soldiers gave their lives for? Is that what they went into battle for – to have everyone tow the party line of whichever party is on top, of whichever media they watch? No questions welcome!
Some of you are aware that there is another danger that we face, coming from within our hi-tech community. The manipulation of the population – yes, you and me included – is documented and frightening. I encourage anyone who is interested, to watch the Netflix movie, The Social Dilemma, to at least be aware of what is happening. Former executives of Facebook and Google and Pinterest etc. tell the story that you’ll hear. You won’t believe your ears.
As I do each year, I have copied below the poem, In Flanders Field, where the author, a soldier writing in the trenches after the Battle of Ypres, asks us to take up the torch that his fallen comrades have thrown to us. Ours is the easier battle in some ways. Are we prepared to speak our minds, debate about what’s right and what’s wrong, not accept every idea the media foists upon us, question, question, question even at the risk of disagreeing with our friends? Are we prepared to keep our democracies -- imperfect as they may still be -- strong in the face of threats both from without and from within? Those are the questions of the day!
So please take 2 minutes of silence at 11 am today and remember those who gave life and limb, that we may live as free men and women in the wonderful countries they bequeathed us. Thank you!
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead; short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved; and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe--
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium