Creating Peaceful Relationships: Remembering the Past Honestly

Although this week’s blog is a departure from my usual story-telling approach, I hope it still elicits reflection about the power of belonging (or the cost of exclusion) and the desire for change as we strive for more peaceful relationships. Whether global or personal, we must acknowledge more completely all those of our past and the events that occurred, to acknowledge what is now. To see it honestly is the door that invites us to create and choose a new future, whether personally, communally or globally.

This week we will see many celebrations that honour men and women who have served in various military capacities – in times of peace as well as in wars and conflicts – events which have affected us in more obvious but also in deeply hidden ways. Over the past year, the Record has been highlighting stories of local ancestors who have fought in WWI to commemorate the 100th year of this war. Reading these stories of the men, women, their parents and families who were left behind, brought to life the human element and toll of this war for me.

Whether it’s global conflict or familial, we are best served when we listen and seek to understand the views of many parties because those who are excluded will always find a way to belong. It may not matter how they choose to belong – as we have seen in the recent events here in Canada – but everyone does seek to belong. It is a core and most intrinsic human need. When we fail to listen to the ‘soul or narrative’ of all those involved, they will speak from the grave through the next generations. It’s what family, communal or global systems do.

The pain and grief of the past will speak to us in our present and in our future until we listen, acknowledge and choose to act differently. Only then can ‘it’ rest in peace and bless us in the present to make new and creative choices that allow the flow of love.

Remaining veterans want us to remember what they fought for – our freedom and peace. Although I want to honour and deeply bless those who served with the intentions to forward peace, freedoms of speech and diversity of culture, human dignity to all, I equally want to remember the creative conversations and political resolutions of those who choose other ways than war to achieve change through justice and dignity in society.

We must never forget. Yes, that is true. But let’s remember as honestly as we can. Let’s listen to the stories without romanticizing and mythologizing them. Let’s acknowledge the costs and gains for what they were and remain to be, so we can better understand.

I give thanks to the First Nations people and early governance of the French and British and others for their contribution in creating a different kind of country where I can enjoy the benefits of “peace, order and good governance” meant to serve the greater good. I will continue to seek various points of understanding to gain greater perspective to the ‘soul’ of these events.

I honour and remember the Silver Cross Mother who lays a wreath at the base of the National War Memorial on behalf of all mothers who lost children in the military service of their nation. The grief of parents losing a child is profoundly deep and lasts a lifetime.

I pay tribute to the Canadian Forces personnel I sat in circle with while learning mediation and conflict resolution alternatives, even as some of them were in constant ‘shakes’ from combat (PTSD).

I pray for those who have served and now suffer deep mental illnesses that affect their own souls, their families, their communities.

I give thanks to the Canadian Generals who publicly have shared stories of recent wars in which they were commanders and now have a mission to speak on what we must do to create peace in our world.

We all seek to belong, to experience the benefit of good order and to share in the wealth and balance of give and take that life requires to sustain itself. Creating peace in our relationships, on any level, will require listening, forgiving, being honest to see more of the whole, loving and much more creativeness, but I contend that creating peace is not more expensive than the wars that have been, and continue to be, fought.

May we remember with heart and soul (the inclusion principle), so the past can rest and we can move toward creating peace in our relationships.


Shirley Lynn