Every year we gather to hold a moment of silence for the fallen, but we have not been this close to the reason for Remembrance Day in nearly a century.
While writing this, I’m reading a report from the Mayor of Kyiv that the city could very well be without power, heat or running water as Vladimir Putin’s government continues to bombard anything it can target, likely paving the way for another wave of troops, drafted from the general population after the more seasoned troops proved no match for the Ukrainians defending their homes and families.
With his master plan to stop the expansion of NATO completely backfiring, the increasingly cornered Putin and his circle are ramping up rhetoric to frighten anyone who would listen. The former KGB agent himself has repeatedly suggested the use of nuclear weapons if things don’t start going his way, but former President Dmitry Medvedev — who was handpicked by Putin to run for office for a single term so Putin could pretend he wasn’t just another dictator — completely jumped the shark on Nov. 3 when he told a crowd Russia was in a “sacred conflict with Satan” and was fighting “crazy Nazi drug addicts” in Ukraine, who are backed by us Westerners who have “saliva running down (our) chins from degeneracy.”
Having done several projects on Putin’s media landscape in journalism-school, I’ll suggest the degeneracy Medvedev is referring to is the liberal west’s liberalism. I’m not referring to Justin Trudeau’s party, but our philosophy of freedom and making life better for our citizens regardless of race, colour or creed, which has stood as the hallmark of the last century of human progress that began with universal suffrage and has more recently evolved into key developments such as the legalization of same sex marriage and the Truth and Reconciliation commission.
Homophobia in particular is a key part of Putin’s narrative, effectively claiming over here we’re conspiring to force sinful inclusiveness onto the innocent and a strong Russia needs to stand up to this force. Two decades of heated rhetoric have now spilled over into nearly a year of bloodshed.
Closer to home, as I’m writing this, I’m also eagerly keeping tabs on our neighbours to the south, who are undergoing their latest most important election in history. With a Republican-stacked Supreme Court denying a woman’s right to choose and a Republican slate of candidates prepared to ignore the legitimate results of a free and fair election, you would be forgiven for wondering if this is 2022 or 1852. The difference this time is there doesn’t seem to be a major question of national direction facing Americans, but merely the accumulation of hateful rhetoric cast back and forth between two supposedly too-big-to-fail political parties to the point where they’re now living in separate reality tunnels.
Every year we say “Lest we forget” and we recall the horror stories of the past. But lamenting the mistakes of the past doesn’t seem to have stopped us from making new ones.
This Remembrance Day, let us ask ourselves how much respect we show the fallen by finding new ways to add to their numbers. “The war to end all wars,” happened over a century ago, yet here we are.