It is difficult to truly evaluate something without understanding the work and making the sacrifice to produce it. We are capricious creatures and tend to take things for granted.
In Canada, we have been blessed with peace and a relatively easy life for generations. We enjoy some of the richest personal freedoms on the planet and have little experience with the invasion of the state into our rights. At least I’ve done it so far.
Recent events show the erosion of our appreciation for our freedom. Free associations, religion, mobility and other freedoms have been suspended in the name of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but most citizens are not blind.
Section 1 of the Rights and Freedom Charter gives the state an out on suspension of rights. It is stated that our rights are subject to “reasonable restrictions”. This is a reasonable warning in the documentation. In unusual circumstances, such as wars and pandemics, there may be a need for some freedom to be temporarily suspended. This should only be done in the most extreme and unusual situations.
I’m not very interested in using Section 1 of the Charter, but how easily Canadians accepted its use. That doesn’t mean I’m not currently worried about suspension of rights in Canada. Obedient acceptance of the removal of our rights merely indicates a far deeper and more dangerous social problem. In our decades of good life, we have begun to forget how hard it was for us to acquire those rights.
More than a century ago, Armistice Day (now a memorial day) was created in the Commonwealth countries with the aim of never forgetting that we were in the freedom we have. The world has just experienced the hell and hardships of a widespread modern war. World War I was called “the war to end all wars” with dark optimism. Veterans and leaders at the time wanted to be sure they remembered the horror of war and never have to live again. Unfortunately, World War II broke out and millions were killed again in the battle for our freedom. The principle of memory has survived and, thankfully, the world has not seen such a war since.
Our ancestors did not want us to experience what they did in order to appreciate our freedom. They wanted us to never erode those freedoms if we made enough efforts to remember the sacrifices we made to protect our freedoms.
Remembrance Day is one of our most important national events and we’re lost. Attendance at ceremonies has declined for decades, and many leaders today appear to be verbally serving rather than respecting veterans.
The public should be appalled at how carelessly the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dealt with the issue of lowering the Remembrance Day flag. He sought a compromise, allowed the flag to be raised, and then lowered it again for the ceremony until Trudeau was cornered by the issue of giving proper compliance to Remembrance Day. Given Trudeau’s past actions, it is not surprising that what can only be seen as his latest move and indifference to the sacrifice of veterans. What I am worried about is the lack of public interest.
Not lowering the flag on Remembrance Day would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago. Lowering the flag is the most solemn way a country can show mourning and respect. We’ve come close to not actually doing so, and most of the country was unaware.
The need to fight for freedom did not end in World War II. Since then, Canadian men and women have been involved in countless conflicts, many at the ultimate sacrifice. Today, thousands of our veterans have been physically and mentally injured. Don’t let them think they haven’t appreciated what they’ve done.
Over the last century, the war has killed more people than ever before with COVID-19. Loss of freedom poses a far greater threat to human well-being than a pandemic. When a nation deprives a right, it is often unpleasant to return it. Our passive and complacent acceptance of the suspension of our rights has taught authoritarians that we are a pushover in the face of a declared emergency. We never live in a totalitarian dictatorship, but the path to that state always begins with the erosion of individual rights.
The only way you can finally avoid going to war to regain our freedom is to listen to the veterans who have already gone. They have experienced war on our behalf, and they want us to remember it. Remembrance Day is not a day to pay homage to veterans, but an event designed not to repeat history. We have lost sight of the importance of the day, and we may all pay a terrible price for it.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.