When holidays roll around as they do, although I don’t put much thought into calendars or place my hopes on emotional impulses based on the ordination of pre-planned and orchestrated holidays, I too find myself, as long as I’m willing to go, being swept-up in the spirit of the occasion. This speaks to the ideas of collective conscious and what has become known in some circles as hive mind.
On this Memorial Day, 2022, I found myself thinking, as we are asked to do, of those people who lost their lives to war. Memorial Day is dedicated specifically to those in the military who lost their lives but my mind cannot think of them without thinking of all the others who died in war, the civilians, men, women, children and not just here In the US as our waving flags would suggest that we should but, again, seeing the over-all connection between each and every one of us, from here to there, around the globe and across time, I think of them.
I thought of my father and my grandfather, your fathers and grandfathers. I thought of wars being fought today and of those wars that we have been fighting throughout time. I thought of the Lakota brave fighting against the Cree, I thought of the Chinese peasant being over-run by the Mongol hoards. I stretched my mind to consider any and every battle that has ever been fought and the dead.
I thought about the minds of those in battle, their hopes and how they believed, either in the nobility of their cause, the love of their people or simply their own no-less noble will to survive. I thought of the sacrifice made either willingly or not, whether heroically or cowardly they died, whether they were on either the “right” or “wrong” side according to how we now might judge that position. They died and they died either as servants or as slaves and as servants they died for the cause of their leaders or as slaves dying for the sake of pure and simple survival, a life no matter how selfishly preserved was a life that perpetuated the species which perpetuates us all.
I thought about the passion, the emotions that were elevated to the highest levels that only the truth of life or death can inspire, the love that pours out for those you may or may not ever see again, for those who you have already lost. I thought about the way that anger, fear, grief, the ecstasy of triumph the despair of failure the concern for everything that a human can love all coming together, mingling and roaring through that space between each of these people’s minds. Finally we come to a place where the best and only words left are a heart wrenching and terrifying scream or the death rattle of a moan so long and low that it pulls life along, pulling, swallowing life into it like a black hole.
And I thought about us here today, thinking about them and whether or not we give a worthy memorial to these who lived and fought before us and I know that we cannot. We cannot feel their pain. We cannot feel their desperation or their sorrow or fatigue or any other of their feelings because all we have are those feelings that we feel, alone, that we all must feel alone. We can only feel for ourselves but, we can understand and trust at least, that those all around us that came before us and for those who will come after, that they do have feelings and that those feelings of others, though coming perhaps at different times, in different places, that they are just like ours.
But I feel that we have let them down, that we collectively fail those who we remember, and that we fail those who died for us, or for their cause or just for the survival of the human race. We fail them In Ukraine, in Somalia, in Pakistan or Yemen. We fail them in Texas; we fail them in New York, in Chicago, L.A. in your town, in my town. We fail them on the highways and on the internet, we fail them anytime and every time we descend into violence, or prejudice, or greed and for every injustice we visit on one another. We fail them whenever we fail ourselves and refuse to move forward into a world full of peace, gratitude and a common love for one another, a common love for our home here on Earth and for a love and respect for that which can and should come after us. We fail them when we fail to improve our world.
I think about the passion, the lives of those who came before us and I think of how their survival, even unto their deaths, insured a place here for us today. I think about my children, my grandchildren, your children and grandchildren. I think about the lovers who still are yet to meet, about those of us who are growing older, still with tears in our eyes. I think about nature, the birds, the beasts, all that blooms and grows, the sun, the moon. I think about life on this day of remembrance. I pray that they did not and that we do not live and love in vain.