Is modern Canada the home for which our veterans fought? A walk through downtown Toronto reveals a damp collection of concrete boxes coloured by billboards depicting an obese person trying to sell you something. Our national media trumpets the newest humiliation of the nation as they continue their feverish race to the bottom. Our leaders are humiliated on the international stage while having no clear vision to reverse the nation’s fortunes. Like children they bicker, backstabbing the people they are meant to represent and watering down their already lukewarm message ad nauseam. It is enough to make one sick. This fact is particularly apparent during November when we nationally commit ourselves to remember the honours of this country and the many sons who died in their pursuit. The ceremonies by which we remember the dead are generally punctuated by a recitation of John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields.
‘Never again’ we sternly intone, ceremony after ceremony, year after year. Perhaps this is part of the myopia we have indulged ourselves in. So enlightened and wise is the twenty-first-century man that he has abolished war, maximized pleasure and is well on the way to emancipating humanity from all suffering forevermore.
At the turn of the century, there was an American scholar by the name of Francis Fukuyama who wrote a book called ‘The End of History and the Last Man’. As is typical no one actually read the book and proceeded to proclaim the end of history and the eternal ascendancy of western liberal democracy from the ivory towers of academia. Then 9/11 happened.
The issues within Fukuyama’s book and the misinterpretations of his fans and critics notwithstanding, this ‘End of History’ framework is a wonderful heuristic to communicate the perspective of many of our elites and academics who operate within our liberal democracies. But how does this relate to remembrance day, and why do these things make Canada an easy country to hate and a hard country to love?
For those who are unfamiliar with the ‘moment of silence’ scandal that occurred in Ottawa during the remembrance day ceremony, the Governor-General of Canada interrupted the moment of silence with her arrival.
It is nice that the elites of this country go through the motions of remembrance as they plunder the country and destroy everything our honourable dead held dear. A ceremony meant to recall the military virtues of this nation is celebrated by an elderly overweight bureaucrat, whose uniform is mysteriously clad in military commendations. This is military virtue in the twenty-first century?
This is the thrust of my irritation. It is difficult to conceive of anything more disrespectful than this modern pacifistic pageantry. To remember the dead is vital for any society, how are we to know where we are going if we do not recall where we have been, and where we are from.
We have been sheltered from serious wars by the incomprehensible wealth and abundance of the American Empire’s golden age. A period that has ended as America now negotiates its tumultuous decline and fall. America withdraws from its distant garrisons and tensions brew on the periphery.
If history has taught us anything it is that no peace lasts forever. Yet we continue to go through the motions of rituals that lose their meaning with every passing year. The torch of our fathers flickers dimly in the gutter. The modern state of Canada is unrecognizable to those who fell in its service.
In short, the faith has been broken. The nation of Canada flickers and conflict looms on the horizon. Yet we are to face it led by inept elites who cannot even exercise the basic competency displayed by a South American crime lord to quiet their scandals before they become widely publicized. Doing little more than offering annual platitudes while continuing to loot the country.
I suppose that betrayal is the most egregious offence that one can find in modern Canada. It is not the blatant looting, the mismanagement, the active hawking of this nation to foreign wealth so that Canadian elites can clutch at the crumbs and castoffs of the post-industrial empires of the 21st century. It is the performance. The disinterested mime. The ceremonies are performed, the words mouthed, but none of the meaning remains.
The principle is the same as the words of Christ in Matthew. When Christ chastises the Pharisees he rebukes them for neglecting the essence of the law, of the altar, of the faith and callously carrying out actions with cynical hearts.
Remembrance Day should be about recalling and preserving the values and actions that forged this country in the crucible. Its reduction to another bureaucratic ceremony is an offence to everything this nation stood for. We speak of respecting the dead while the country is sold and the values for which they die betrayed.
But what were those values? If we look to the records, the memoirs and the poetry composed by the warriors of Canada, particularly following the First World War we see that there was a general consensus that the war was being fought to defend the British Empire and the civilization and culture that it had produced. The rhetoric of civilizations clashing was amplified by calls to defend Christian civilization. This impulse to place the whole before the individual, to be willing to place one’s life at the foot of a greater cause is absent from both our modern leaders and their Remembrance Day performances.
Their deaths were tragic, but not a tragedy. Through their sacrifice, Canada overcame her enemies.
Modern analysts are excessively materialist in their analysis of modern societies. Their attempts to explain modern economic decline and the pandemic of despair are rooted in employment and economic cycles. While these are valuable statistics they are at the end of the day statistics. Man cannot live on bread alone, nor can a civilization live on hedonistic nihilism. A great civilization is built not on economic resources but rather spiritual ones. The former is the product of the latter rather than the source from which the latter springs. Great civilizations are built upon mountains of suffering and skulls. Countless men laying down their wealth, their comfort, and their very lives for a greater cause than themselves.
The Prussian Empire was built not from economic abundance but from military excellence. During the Punic wars between Rome and Carthage countless sons of Rome fell, when the Roman fleet was destroyed, the Patricians of Rome opened their pockets and funded the reconstruction of the fleet. When Hannibal crossed the Alps, Roman legions were massacred in the field. Yet Rome persisted. When Pyrrhus fought Rome during the Pyrrhic wars, he scored victories over the Romans with the assistance of his war elephants. Yet Rome refused to yield, doggedly persisting despite their losses, until the Greeks and the Carthaginians were forced to withdraw from Italy.
It was this spirit of grit and sacrifice that should undergird any memory of Canada’s wars. Their deaths were tragic, but not a tragedy. Through their sacrifice, Canada overcame her enemies. Through their sacrifice, Canada rose above her obstacles. Through them, Canada rose to become a great nation in the 20th century. It is in this light that the true outrage of our nation becomes clear. The greatness of this nation, built upon the death and sacrifice of so many for a greater cause, has been betrayed. Canada’s decline was caused by the greed of those who betrayed the soul of this nation. It can be revived once more. But only by the same spirit of those who came before.