Nearly every year when Remembrance Day comes around I think about the use of the word “time.” We often use it, of course, and frequently say we “don’t have time.”
We don’t have time for the neighbours, we don’t have time for the community. Of course, lifestyles change and in many homes both adults work, often through necessity, or because one does not want to abandon a profession on which they have spent a lot of time and money, nor should they. Time is crowded.
But now, children grow up on farms, go to town school on a bus and graduate from high school without seeing or knowing the people who live across the fields. Their parents have not encouraged them to do so.
All these very good rural history books written a few years ago were all about interacting with the neighbours. If one would attempt such a book in years to come, what would there be along those lines? Anyway, there might not be anyone left to write them.
Meanwhile, there’s time to watch yet another hockey game on television, time to twiddle around on Facebook.
So what has all this to do with Remembrance Day? Just this: Did the young men who went to serve in the armed forces in the first World War, the Second World War, have time to go?
Did they have time to die, choking on mustard gas, hung up on razor wire?
Did they have time to exist in a prisoner of war camp?
The young soldier who died in 1917 never had time to finish paying for the new piece of machinery he’d bough for the homestead.
The man dead in Normandy in 1942 had no time to inherit the farm that his grandfather started in 1903.
A young Cree man killed by a sniper’s bullet would never have the time to become an elder who could help guide his people to a healthier life.
Does anyone really win a war? Will wars ever cease?
We might perhaps be more careful in the way we use the word “time.”