By Jack Canfora
I’ve always felt odd wishing people a Happy Memorial Day. After all, it’s a day honoring the war dead. Whether these unfortunate souls died fighting fascism, or perhaps decidedly less noble causes, the bottom line is all of them believed in something bigger than themselves, and they gave their lives for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love beaches, baseball and am fiercely pro-barbecue, but “Happy Memorial Day” sticks a bit in my throat. Fortunately, it comes up only once a year, so I have plenty of time to devote to my other neuroses. Perhaps the better salutation might be, “Have a Grateful Memorial Day.”
As we’re still reeling form a surreal past half decade or so, and a positively nightmarish las 15 months, I think it’s worth pointing out that the notion of devoting ourselves to a cause larger than ourselves is not only a good way of finding true purpose at a time when many of us are questioning the purpose of anything, it’s also as needed as ever. The fight for goodness and justice, as I need not remind anyone, is ongoing.
This website devotes much time, and rightly so, to the importance of love and forgiveness of the self and others. It’s altogether fitting that we do this. It’s vital that we continue the sometimes hard work of doing so. But part of recognizing goodness is seeing its opposite and naming it for what it is. If ever there were an appropriate time to recognize the need for vigilance of the forces that would bring darkness into our world, it’s this weekend. This is why, at least ostensibly, so many died (we can justifiably roll our eyes and shake our fists about whether this was/is pragmatically true, but I don’t think now’s the time) gave their “last full measure of devotion” to the cause of making the world a little better and freer.
But we’re not there yet. In fact, sometimes it feels further away than has in a while.
Just as the Sandy Hook massacre made clear that America prized its guns over the lives of babies (or, perhaps more correctly, that America’s politicians decided they’d rather stay in power than protect babies), those in power refusing to pursue the investigation of the traitorous January 6th attacks (all of whom proudly say, “Blue Lives Matter” while ignoring the murder and maiming of police officers by a pro-Trump mob) make clear they value their place at the trough more than they do American democracy. More than their actual lives.
Lincoln said our end, if it came, would not come from outside forces, but from ourselves. I’ve never been sadder or angrier to find once again that Lincoln was wise beyond measure.
For those of us in America, I wish you a Grateful Memorial Day, hoping you have a good time with hopefully reunited friends and family. And for all of us around the world, I hope we dedicate ourselves to doing what we can to continuing the Great Work of inching the world closer towards a more just and gentler world.
Please share your thoughts! Sorry, this post is starved of humor.
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