Halloween and All Saints Day have come and gone. Who would have thought back in March that we would still be dealing with COVID-19?
But here we are, nine months later, painfully aware of the many lives that are still being threatened by this dangerous virus that continues to wage war on our health, safety and security. We are tired. We are battle weary. And I am left to wonder if this is what it must have felt like back in the 1940s when another virus, one of hatred and division, was threatening the well-being of our world?
As we mark Remembrance Day this year, and as I think about the sacrifices that so many made to secure freedom and peace in our world, I give thanks for those in the past who selflessly took up the call for the greater good. This year I am also thinking about the sacrifices that many are making again today for the greater good. People on the front lines of the pandemic who are risking their lives to provide care for others. People who have lost their lives in service to others.
Past and present, we are blessed by those who have and who continue to offer themselves in the service of humanity. These people offer a shining example of all that can be accomplished when we give ourselves to a higher purpose and stand strong in the face of that which threatens life, safety and human dignity. As the past informs the future, perhaps there is something else we need to think about this Remembrance Day in particular. If the people of the world had not come together around the common purpose of defeating a past virus and ending the hatred and horrors of the Second World War, the future of the world would have been forever changed.
There is a beautiful word, “Ubuntu”, which is a unifying vision and world view that is part of the spiritual foundation of many African societies. It comes from the Zulu phrase “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” which means that "a person is a person through other persons". Jesus’ teachings remind us that each of us is “a person through other persons” and each of us has a responsibility to love our neighbour and make the world a place of peace, security and freedom for all.
May we be reminded this Remembrance Day that when we come together and work towards a common goal and the greater good, there is nothing we cannot do. In these dangerous times, we can save lives. We can keep each other safe. We can put a stop to this new virus which threatens our future.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives; so let not your hearts be troubled; neither let them be afraid.”
—Gospel of John