For many people, Monday, Nov. 11, will be a holiday from work and from school, and some will never give a second thought to why they get the day off. They will go for a walk on a peaceful cool morning, or drive down the street, go shopping, maybe go to church, or gather with friends and enjoy their good company.
The ability to do these things, without fear of reprisals or of marauding bands of rogue military units or armed bandits, to worship as one sees fit, or as occurred just recently, to take part in a democratic exercise and go cast a ballot in an election — all of these things and more came at a cost.
The cost was not paid by them, but they enjoy the freedom and the ability to come and go as they wish.
When an issue comes up that upsets them, and they voice their displeasure or concerns to their friends or take up action on the street with a protest sign, there is a reason the freedom exists for people to do this. In places like Hong Kong, there are certainly many people doing this, taking their protests to the street, and some are being hurt or even killed for those actions.
There is one simple question that should be asked: have any of these people, in any of these situations, ever thought to say “thank you” for the privilege of being able to do any of it?
Likely not, as most people in Canada take it for granted, they’re allowed to vote, to go to school, to protest in the streets, to enjoy a leisurely walk down a street, because that’s how life is here.
They are able to read a newspaper (like this one), hear the news on radio or TV, or go to a concert or a movie, without fear of restriction, without needing to offer their papers or identification to get through, or needing to avoid robbers or police roadblocks, such as is the case right now in countries like Haiti.
We should not be ungrateful that we have these freedoms, and we should not be so arrogant as to think, “Oh, that could never happen here, this is Canada!”
This is a peaceful country, and it is certainly a free one with full democratic rights to any and all who wish to use those rights and freedoms — and in a very real way, we citizens owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who served in times of war. This is not to glorify the war, but to recognize many people made great sacrifices, in order to preserve the freedoms that subsequent generations enjoy.
On Nov. 11, even if you do not attend a Remembrance Day service, take the time to say, “Thank you.” It’s the very least that we can do.