Right in the centre - I just want to cry


By Ken Waddell 

The Neepawa Banner & Press

As Remembrance Day arrives again this weekend, my mind is filled with a mixture of memories and thoughts for the future.

In my childhood days, there were no direct memories of WWII as I was not born until 1948. Yes, I am a baby boomer. I do have very early memories of my brother serving in the Korean War and I did have the honour of touring Korea for two weeks several years ago. It gave me a great personal satisfaction that I stood on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Korea and phoned my brother to let him know I was there and that the Korean men with me wanted to extend their thanks through me for his fighting to free South Korea. I also told those men that as a child I, along with thousands of other Canadian kids, had little pink cardboard coin boxes where we put in pennies, nickels and dimes to send to people in need including Korean children. Two of the men shed a few tears as they said they remembered that missionary money being used in Korea to send Canadian dried milk powder and as little kids, that was all their parents had at times to send to school for them to eat.

I came across a quote from Hawkeye in the M.A.S.H TV series. It goes like this

Hawkeye- “War isn’t hell. War is war and Hell is hell and of the two, war is a lot worse”

Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy- “How do you figure that. Hawkeye?”

Hawkeye- “Easy Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell? 

Mulcahy- “Sinners, I believe 

Hawkeye- “Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. But war is chock full of them. Little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for a few of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.”

Now that is quite a quote but it does contain a lot of truth.

At the present time there are twelve or fourteen wars going on in the world. Men, women and children are being killed by the dozens every day in conflicts around the world. The difference between ancient wars and current wars is that we see more of what is happening and we see it before the governments can gloss over the tragedies and atrocities.

In contrast to the horror of war, I attended a birthday party for my granddaughter last weekend. It was a surprise party for her put on by her husband. They have three kids and with a good sized crew of their friends in attendance, there were 14 kids under the age of 10 in the house. As I sat back and listened to the joy and laughter of all the kids and the banter of the parents, as one little boy crawled up on the couch to play with his car with me, I almost broke down and cried. The only thing that stopped me was that it would have been too hard to explain and I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of pure joy in that home. I wanted to cry out for all the people who are suffering from war and destruction today and who haven’t much hope of celebrating a birthday party even if they will make it to their next birthday.

I wanted to cry, but I also wanted to scream at all “the brass” in the world, both in the past, present and future who have caused or will cause so much harm, a WWII veteran friend of mine says, “It’s stupid arrogance” when he he speaks of the decisions to inflict war on others.

Note I say inflict war. I blame invading countries as they never seem to understand that old hurts and old wars and old and almost forgotten national boundaries shouldn’t matter. On the current war situations I am most familiar with, namely Gaza and Ukraine, the lines are fairly clear. Hamas has been invading Israel with terrorist attacks for 75 years and Russia has been stupidly trying to re-establish an old empire of the past.

Enough already, be it Gaza or Ukraine or any other war-torn county in the world. People, families, food production and economic activity are far more important.

I know I am on a bit of a rant, but hasn’t the United Nations failed us all? They go on and on about a somewhat elusive climate change theory, hoodwinking us all and leading us along a path of unreachable goals, all the while they can’t put their foot down on aggressor countries. To me, the United Nations seems like a colossal waste of money if they can’t rein in invading countries.

I guess we have to look a bit closer at the ‘brass’,  Hawkeye talked about. I think he meant military leaders and they are to blame along with their bosses, the politicians.

The excuse is they all get swept up in some form of extremism. Sometimes it’s communism, often it’s religion and storing up old hurts both real and imagined.

The problem is usually based in some form of religion and that is any belief system where mankind is reaching out to God or trying to be God.

Christianity isn’t supposed to be a religion as rather than mankind reaching out to God, Christianity is supposed to be God reaching out to mankind. The Christian church got that arrangement backwards many times in history and created a lot of wars themselves.

Can we ever put war away? I don’t know if we ever will but as we remember the sacrifices of so many people on Remembrance Day, let us hope and pray that we do. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.