During the early years of the last century, the great poet and philosopher George Santayana wrote that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” He also wrote that “only the dead have seen the end of war.” A century later his words continue to ring in the ears of those who see in current events the same cycle repeated again and again.
Ninety-five years ago, the bloodiest war the world had ever seen ended with the defeat of Germany and the signing of the treaty of Versailles. On every eleventh day of the eleventh month since then, the victors of this first World War have paused to remember the millions who spilled their blood in that conflagration. They call it Remembrance Day and wear a poppy to symbolize the sacrifice of so many of their beloved fathers, sons and brothers. In the United States we honor our veterans on this same date, in part because of the loss of American lives in the “Great” war.
And how did humanity respond to the catastrophe of this world war? Less than twenty years later the world was again at war, this time with incomprehensible loss of life. Pure evil arose and spawned genocide perpetrated upon the Jewish people, gypsies, Catholics and others. Hitler and his cabal killed tens of millions. To comprehend the magnitude of the loss of life, try counting to one thousand. I’ll bet that most of us would tire and quit before getting even close.
Today, the seeds of the next world conflict are growing throughout the world. Have we learned anything from history? Are we condemned to repeat it? Left to its own devices, evil flourishes.
God does not want us to be passive in the face of these events. We must pray that our leaders will show wisdom and courage in facing unrest and danger in the world. We are obligated to remind those leaders of their responsibility to ensure that justice will be the result. We should also pray that hearts will be converted to the love of God.
Remembrance is not enough. For our sake and for our children and their children, we cannot be silent.