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Remembrance Day thoughts 11.11.2019

Remembrance Day thoughts 11.11.2019
November 10, 2019 Hilary Evans

If you take a bus from the centre of Cardiff to the Bay, there is a statue of Ghandi, erected there in 2017. Ghandi was an Indian lawyer, trained in London. He was instrumental in helping to form modern India, and became well known for his anti-colonial attitudes and especially for his non-violent resistance which led to India’s independence from Britain, and inspired later civil rights movements.
Walking a little further, past the impressive Opera House and the Welsh Assembly and heading towards the Norwegian church, there is another statue which was presented to Cardiff by the World Harmony Run. It is a peace statue – a man holding a flame of peace. The World Harmony Run was begun over 25years ago by Sri Chinmoy. One of his most well know quotes is, ‘Peace is not merely the absence of war. Peace is the dynamic and energetic presence of love, harmony and oneness in the world family.’
Between these two statues is one of my all time favourite sculptures. It is the shape and skeleton of a boat, as if lying on the shore. The keel is shaped into a face. I find it both beautiful and poignant. This past week there were several poppy wreaths hung on its ribs, along with a few poppy crosses. This added to its powerful effect on me.
I was particularly struck by the powerful images of these three landmark memorials this Remembrance week. Sometimes there seems to be so much aggression and discord that it is hard to conceive of a world without it, and yet the message that Christ brought us to love one another is something we need to keep striving for. It is not easy. There are times when we can feel distressed, upset, angry and resentful. These thoughts and feelings can bring with them a desire to lash out, to fight, to want what we believe is ours as right, our personal justice. If, however we can harness our strength of feeling, and seek the way of forgiveness and reconciliation, then it is more likely that a more harmonious way forward will be found. Mahatma Ghandi chose the way of non-violent protest stating, ‘ In a gentle way, you can shake the world.’ He sought to live his life in a gentle way, advocating, ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world.’
This morning as we included a few minutes of the footage from the Cenotaph in our Remembrance Day service, we saw representatives of many religious bodies across Britain, join the gathering around the memorial, shortly followed by a group of political leaders. Many attitudes and ways of thinking would be represented amongst them, some at significant variance with one another, and yet on this day, in that place they stood together. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is not just about remembering the horrors of war and reminding us to strive for peace between nations, but it is also a time to think of those struggling with personal ‘war’, with conflict and aggression in so many forms: the women and children in abusive situations; those driven to seek a better life and ending in slavery, those restricted by physical and mental abilities – all in their personal conflicts.
The words of the hymn we sang to end our service, ‘Show me how to stand for justice: how to work for what is right’, [713 in Singing the Faith] seemed appropriate for the day. You may like to read them for yourself.