Sunday, April 26, 2009

Freedom

I copped a bit of flak in my ANZAC post below so it got me thinking.

I linked the sacrifices made last century to what I think are the threats to our way of life today.

Arthur Lloyd sacrificed his life in a simpler world. He could literally look his enemy in the eye over some rotten piece of no man’s land. His enemy had a spiked helmet, bolt action rifle and bayonet.

As many better people than me have pointed out, we are spending what he and thousands like him paid for.

If I ever had the opportunity to talk to my 20 year old ancestor and ask him his view, I am picking that he would tell me something along these lines.

“My enemy is not the rifle or the bayonet but the man behind it. That man may be an innocent 20 year old like me but we are all caught up in forces greater than us as individuals. Regardless, he is the threat I must deal with today”

And if I could ask him for advice, maybe he would tell me

Know your enemy because he knows you”

Now I have lived through the cold war. I remember, as a 14 year old, being taken to South Korea by my war veteran father. We visited Panmunjeom, the village in the middle of the Demilitarised Zone, where the original peace talks were held. This was a surreal place were 6 foot 2 inch American GI’s towered over their North Korean counterparts and a meeting room was set exactly on the border. The table had a line running down the middle. Everything had its place down to the size and position of the little flags on either side. No quarter was asked for or given. This was the absolute coal face between the West and Communism. There you could still look your enemy in the eye.

Now 35 years on, I have had a great life spending the freedom paid for by past generations. I have had the luxury of a good education, traveled freely around the world and had business opportunities my ancestor’s would not have thought possible. Thankfully I have never had to look an enemy directly in the eye.

But does that mean that they don’t exist? No.

Many human threats exist to our lifestyle and more importantly, the future lifestyle of our children. In fact baring natural disasters, which can be partially mitigated by risk management, 99% of all threats are from other humans. The problem is that now they don't come clearly labelled with bolt action rifles and bayonets.

I won’t name them here because that is not the purpose of this post.

I merely point out that I for one will not waste the lesson that Arthur left for me on the fields of France.

9 comments:

Ruth said...

People were offended because you slapped a political label on ANZAC Day.

You continue to politicise it in this post. Not every event is politically partisan.

harpoonz said...

I agree with Ruth. No good can come from using dead ANZAC soldiers, sailors and airmen as emotional leverage for political slanging matches.

Also, the 'they died for our freedom' meme is full of shit.

My grandfather was a RAOC combat vehicle field mechanic in the Northern Desert. He fixed broken down tanks under fire. He told me he never knew anyone who died for freedom; "My mates fought and died for their mates". Admittedly, he wasn't an ANZAC, but I cannot imagine that any ANZAC serviceman exhaled his last breath thinking, "I'm dying for freedom."

Lou Taylor said...

Thanks Harpoonz, you are obviously from the same school of thought as Helen Clark - never look back.

WAKE UP said...

Lou, if someone (such as the two who have just posted to this blog) can't see that your comments weren't "political", they were ETERNAL, nothing can be done about it. They will only learn when they are directly threatened.

harpoonz said...

Lou and Wake, please read what I wrote. I'm not going to get into a slanging match on this issue. Choose another context.

The Silent Majority said...

Lou, I think your comments are right on target. I for one, could not help thinking all day Anzac day about how our freedoms are under threat (more in some countries than in NZ right now, thank God), but we have all become so lethargic we don't all see what is happening, or we don't perceive it as a loss of freedom.

However, give an inch and before you know it, you'll have lost a mile.

Much of the western world are like the proverbial frogs in the boiling pot right now.

KG said...

Of course soldiers don't go into battle thinking 'I'm doing this for freedom'.
You do it because you're there, you do it for your mates, you do it because you're young and don't want to be seen as a coward.
But--against a totalitarian enemy--you are also doing it for freedom.

Anonymous said...

harp-on-nz, time to update your sad little blog, isn't it?

WAKE UP said...

Harpoonz, thanks for asking me ro read what you wrote again, but once was enough.