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The little boy who complained to God

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Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

As dawn services were held all around the world to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, the rock band System of a Down also performed in Armenia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Yet as these emotional “lest we forget” tributes are held, urging us to reflect on lessons of the past and the futility of war, the Mediterranean, right now, is presently becoming a “mass grave” for refugees of war. Many families with young children are dying cruel deaths, as we deny them the support needed to build safe and peaceful lives, away from the ravages and atrocities of war. Ironic, no?

We’re asked to remember those who gave their lives 100 years ago - to clarify, people don’t give up their lives. People give up carbs. Or we give away things we no longer need. Lives are not given up, they are taken. Henry Patch, the last veteran of WWI, commented, “The politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences among themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.”

However we’re more inclined to refer to soldiers making a “sacrifice”, as opposed to being mass murdered. Sacrifice: the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.”  Who determines what is considered a higher or more pressing claim, in exchange for our lives? This generally boils down to those in control, lining their own pockets. Which funnily enough, are never the same people as those having to make the “sacrifice”. (This exact question is posed by another writer, reporting on the death of a little Syrian boy who said that he'd definitely be complaining to God about this mess).

Depending on what side of history you’re on, the loss, anger and heartbreak of the families who’ve had their loved ones murdered, is appeased with medals, commemorations, and assurances that brave heroes were moulded from scared homesick boys. The use of propaganda, pomp and ceremony somehow wraps something very unpleasant into a neat and tidy bow for civilian digestion. War medals are awarded, like giving gold stars to children, and we place value in the cold pieces of metal because we must be convinced that there was deeper meaning and accomplishment behind the loss. But these assurances are reserved for the privileged, and certainly not for refugees of war or victims of genocide. For many, such as the thousands of migrants who have risked their lives for a better future and died doing so, there will be no medals of bravery for their grandchildren to inherit, no commemorations for those who paid the ultimate price in exchange for a promised freedom.

Commenting on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, Serj Tankian (lead singer of System Of A Down) wrote that commemoration “is not just about remembering… It’s not an ancient problem. It’s a modern one that still seems to persist because we’re… not really paying attention to humanitarian loss and the damage that we’re doing to each other.” The world’s failure to punish perpetrators of crimes just sets the scene for future regimes and crazy’s to use “mass murder as a tool of policy and power”. (With this in mind, I saw another headline today - "World Ignores Genocide In Central African Republic Because It’s Not ISIS & There’s No Oil"). The band’s #WakeUpTheSouls tour (suitable name) works to raise awareness of these issues and encourages us to take a stand for truth and justice.

To take a stand for truth and justice… we’re now sitting on 100 years’ worth of reflection. We’ve gathered at dawn for 100 years now, with tears in our eyes, united and standing together. To grieve the past while, right under our noses, wars rage unchallenged still and millions of innocent civilians perish. Pope Francis has appealed for leaders and communities to do more for wartime refugees – to wake up our souls! “They are men and women like us – our brothers seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war,” he said.

If we can come together for a battle fought a 100 year ago, can we do it for the battles we face today?


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