Thoughts of Peace, Freedom and Gratitude

Days such as today (commemorations, anniversaries, etc.) always remind me of the same important thing. One day is designated as a memorial day, during which we should dedicate our thoughts and attention towards significant people and events. However, thoughts of peace, freedom and gratitude aren’t to be restricted to just one day per year.

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Please understand this: there is no criticism here of any kind against those who outwardly show that they mark Remembrance Day with poppies, badges, wristbands or otherwise. There is nothing towards anyone, on the basis that they ‘don’t do enough the rest of the time in order to justify these few days of recognition at this time of year…’.

I won’t try to make you believe that I reserve time every single day specifically in order to remember and thank the soldiers who fought and died to preserve their world and ours. This is rather about encompassing these unnamed martyrs of freedom and peace, to whom we owe our way of life, in the overall circle of gratitude I send out for anything and everything for which I am grateful.

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What if we made it our objective, starting with this day, Remembrance Sunday – 15th November 2020, to remember, not once per year but at least once per day, whom our freedom is (in large part) thanks to. At least, to recognise the simple fact that freedom, as well as peace, are ours. In doing so, I daresay we will never again risk taking for granted even the smallest measure of freedom and peace which we enjoy every single day… Freedom can manifest itself in any number of ways, which aren’t for us to qualify as ‘big’ or ‘small’.

Our ‘everyday’ freedom, the kind which allows us to realise everyday endeavours, every day, may seem anything but extraordinary. However, we’d certainly notice if one day it were gone. Imagine a situation in which our right to go out as we choose – or to stay out as late as we choose – were taken away…? Let’s try to imagine that for just a moment…??!! Thoughts of peace, freedom and gratitude may seem a tall order when we are forced to compromise on what we consider as our basic ‘rights’.

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This morning, I woke up in a warm bed, in a peaceful apartment; we had toast for breakfast, of which there was plenty, and thought of the day ahead, which we’d fill with whatever we would decide. Later, I sat looking through the window at the sky and view outside, breathing and taking in that quiet, placid moment.

I then began thinking of the gift which is this peace, bestowed upon us by those for whom today is appointed a day of memorial.

It was justly this moment at which it occurred to me that I don’t attribute this gift to those who gave their lives for it, as they did for so many people, nearly as often as I ought to.

This one manifestation of the freedom I enjoy in my everyday life illustrates the main point I wish to make: even something by all accounts ‘ordinary’ warrants our gratitude for having the freedom to do it. That we don’t necessarily take the time daily to dedicate our thoughts to the brave soldiers, resistance fighters, medics, activists, civilians… All those who sacrificed and fought in order that we can live a life so peaceful they are absent from our very thoughts for so much of the year is perhaps even somewhat cruel irony…?

May we never know the fear they knew, face the danger they faced or be confronted, as they were, with the uncertainty of whether we will live to see another day of quiet peace, let alone return home to share it with our families.

May we live in such a way that, so as not to take for granted all they gave up in order to preserve the existence of their world, thereby paving the way for ours, they might feel as though all that they gave was worth the sacrifice.

Image by Michael from Pexels

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All year round we mark special occasions, and commemorate past ones with anniversaries, celebrating or remembering loved ones and the significant events which tie us together. Whatever the occasion, or nature of the significance, let’s reserve a place for remembering their importance not just on the ‘one day of the year that counts’, but every day of the year.

Keeping everything and everyone which matters to us constantly at the forefront of our minds is not what it takes to show them their importance to us. Thank goodness – where would be the space for all the insignificant, everyday things which clamour for the same attention?!! It isn’t even necessarily about telling them, either – no less giving them something – in order to remind them how important they are. Everyday recognition, in any form – however ‘big’ or ‘small’, but especially ‘small’ – of who and what makes our life extraordinary, is the first way of expressing our gratitude for them…

This can just as well be an internal (‘SMALL’!) as an external word of thanks, a tiny yet perceptible – and equally if not more powerful – acknowledgment of our gratitude for their presence or existence. The constant presence of these sentiments is what renders days such as anniversaries so genuinely special.

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