Take a moment to pause. . .

We celebrate Veteran’s Day annually but it’s far oftener that we should pay homage to those men and women who so willingly serve in some branch of the services to protect the rest of us.  Every moment of their deployment puts their life on the line and they do it willingly; they have not been drafted.  Each of these individuals has made the decision to put the lives of others before their own: that decision includes our lives as well as the lives of their comrades.

What they too often get for their courage, their commitment and their loyalty is silence from the rest of us when they return.  Perhaps we have praised an individual we personally know, and if so, that’s great; but have we freely expressed the gratitude that every man and woman deserves and longs to hear?  Probably not.  At least I’d have to say I have been much too silent.

It’s not my intention to foist guilt upon us in this post.  I don’t believe in guilting others, but I do think we need to reflect on every veteran’s remarkable courage juxtaposed with our deafening silence.  We can change that behavior, however.  Immediately.  Perhaps we choose not to change how we feel about war.  And that’s a perspective we are free to cultivate.  That’s not what this post is about.  My point is to remind us that life is simply a classroom, it’s about righting our wrongs, about admitting when we failed to live up to the values that were modeled for us in our family of origin or among our friends and coworkers.

War is painful.  It’s tragic.  It kills and maims tens of thousands throughout the world.  It’s dehumanizing and in most instances, it’s absolutely unnecessary.  We observe the many conflicts around the globe on the television nightly, passing judgment on those more hawkish than ourselves but seldom expressing in a calm, rational way our personal displeasure about war, if indeed, we feel displeasure.  Perhaps that’s why we end up being silent in regard to the returning veterans.  We mistakenly think that honoring them honors war.  On the contrary.  They served because they felt “called.”  It’s time for the rest of us to feel “called” to let them know their service matters.  To all of us.

Honoring others is an activity we need not limit to the men and women who serve, thus protecting all of us.  Honoring others is the primary lesson each one of us has been invited to learn in this life.  Honor the person who waits on you at the grocery, the drugstore, the restaurant.  Honor the strangers you pass on the street by seeing them, smiling perhaps, at least letting them know their presence has not been ignored.  What we do to one, we do to all, according to a multitude of spiritual teachings.  Practicing it on a daily basis will make it easier to express it in those instances where it deeply matters.

We can start any day over.  Why not begin with the commitment to show others they matter regardless of who they are and what they have chosen to do on their specific journey. Begin now.  Now.



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