This week's issue is about Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, Indigenous Veterans Day, and all the other sacrifices we are indebted to, so our society may thrive and grow; this from the soil of beliefs our War Veterans were defending, when they went to war. What remains is, have we honoured these sacrifices?
If we have continued to live and even grow deeper in the values their actions were predicated on, then we have and are living in honour. If we, as a society, have departed from these values, worth dying to protect, then where is the honour?
I'd like to examine the idea of scars. What is a scar? Isn't it a remembrance, a witness, the substance of a truth? Scars reveal a reality most of us don't comprehend, especially not on an intimate level, internally. If I may, I believe I can safely say, no Veteran would want us to carry around, in our inner selves, the scars they carry. Yet, despite the unthinkable circumstances in war, I believe they would each insist, all life should be treated with value.
How many times have you looked at someone, seen their scars and then turned away, or wanted to? How many times have we felt secret shame when we've done this?
Whenever I was confronted with the scars of others, in the past, I had an aversion to the people who carried them. If they were war wounds, this confronted the inner sense I had of never doing my part, whether I could, or I couldn't relate, making it seem I was not enough. I simply didn't know how to interact with these individuals. What if I asked a question which set them off or sent them into a recurring cycle of traumatic memories? Frankly, I was intimidated and afraid.
Then, one day, I had a realization, "How did they feel, going to war to protect us and the values which protect life?" Who was I to allow this little bit of insecurity to override the depth of reality these brave people have lived: openly lived, to defend our lives? These heroes deserve time with us, but time, which illustrates their sacrifices were not for nothing. Time which imparts back to them, gratefulness, purpose, and security for the kind of future they gave of themselves to defend.
Part of the disconnect, is because we have never really experienced this kind of raw reality or have confronted the worst in the potential of mankind, certainly not on a mass scale. Only select individuals in our police force have experienced this kind of deprivation. There are also those in our medical system who have contended with the results of this kind of assault on the human senses, as they work tirelessly, confronting it in our emergency wings of hospitals everywhere. This is at a level which clearly reveals it is not just an individual thing but rather a pervading and presenting influence which harasses the hearts and minds of humanity.
We fight against it personally, yet it comes through in drips and drabs of impatience or anger, feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, and times of resentment or even prejudice. These are scars as well, but they are ones which are not initially shown in the flesh, not evident physically. They are the wounds of the soul.
Our Veterans carry these inner scars exponentially as well, on top of, or should I say, underneath these physical witnesses. Yet, many Veterans have this solace, too, as that is not all they have experienced. They have also experienced the noble potential of humankind. They may have surprised themselves and directly saved lives or fought beside those who gave their lives to save others. So many: fighting to stop war by stopping the physical aggressor, have come home with physical and inner scars, this from wounds they incurred while valuing the lives of others. The Holy Bible says that is the highest thing another person can do. In John 15:13, the LITV version shares it this way. "Greater love than this has no one, that anyone should lay down his soul for his friends." Friends: those in our community or larger in our country, whether we've met them or not. It is a disposition carried in the heart with a preconception of good. You might even call it a positive prejudice. This characteristic is one we all like to imagine ourselves aspiring to, yet we believe we seldom have the opportunity to reach it in peacetime.
In apparent peacetime, most are not willing to acknowledge we are still in a war, one which attempts to corrupt the spirit of humankind, crippled by the fall of man. We'd rather turn away, to hide our shame than face the sense of inadequacy; it's understandable because we don't even know where the war is being waged.
The war for our hearts goes on more subtly in the vacuum of direct physical war. It is the daily war of trying to rise up and live to protect the lives and dignity of others close by and, consequently, at a larger level, our society. It's not an outward war; however, it's a spiritual one.
The victory starts by admitting we need the help of Christ, who has already fought that war and will share his scars with us if we ask him. In this sharing, He also shares the victory won, the victory over that inner harassment. No amount of cheerleading, reflective abandonment, or incessant distractions of multimedia can avoid the needful acknowledgement of life's calling us to yield to the witness of scars.
Christ's sacrifice, to defend us, provided us with an opportunity to live forward with that same seed of integrity. But we must look at it honestly and directly, remembering the corrupted heart of mankind, from the fall in the garden, which provokes the wars we see the world going through today, right now, in the Ukraine and the Middle East.
In the Bible, it says, "Yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands," in Isaiah 49:15b-16a ESV.
God has scars: think of it, we are His scars, and they remind Him of His love for us. This seed of laying one's life down for others, and so society, is offered to us today. Remember, we must acknowledge the gift, purpose and security with gratefulness and live it forward in everyday moments. Christians hold this mission in heart; we treasure it because of the unending witness of Christ's scars.
Scars serve as a piece of reality, evidence of truth fought for, and a danger fought against but then defeated. In the Judicial Court system, throughout history, this is called evidence, but more than circumstantial or hearsay, it is an actual part of what existed in the fray.
Christ's scars serve as a witness of the reality of the corruption of mankind. Yet more, they also serve as a testimony of a moment in time, of God's victory over this corruption and how these scars offer direction for new life if we will take them to our hearts. Similarly, our veterans' scars direct us to look to them and learn of the value of life. Remembrance Day commemorates a need-fullness to acknowledge the truth these heroes fought for, serves as a reminder to the spiritual war we live in today, and the good fight we can embrace, to live as seeds of life.