And down the slippery rabbit-hole

Two rows of windows spanned the length of the pale building, all with the white blinds pulled shut – except for two. In the first window, there was an old man, sitting at a desk and staring out the glass and into the world beyond. And in the second, there was another man, sitting in exactly the same position… but instead of staring out into the world, he held his head in his hands. This building is a retirement home, but its clients are of a special breed – this place is a home for retired veterans who can no longer live on their own.

These two men, and all the veterans in that building, had experienced so much in their lifetime – and now they are left alone to stare out a window and reflect back on all they had witnessed. They have a lot to reflect upon – thinking about the people they have killed while fighting in war, the horrors that they have seen, and the friends and family they have lost.

Veterans are people in celebrated professions. Back in 1914, when World War I first began, war was romanticized. Go off to war, the recruitment ads read, and come back a hero. At that point, no one knew exactly what was in store – and when the war finally ended in 1919, people were relieved. Of course, those relieved were also those who were still alive – for those who were now no more than corpses left behind, decomposing on the now-silent battlefield, could feel nothing.

The profession remains respected today. On February 18th, 2010, the death of John Babcock made national headlines. Babcock was Canada’s last known WWI veteran. The Prime Minister issued a statement that read, “The passing of Mr. Babcock marks the end of an era."

Yes, battles won in the World Wars helped shape Canada’s history. Harper himself said that Babcock’s death was the end of an era, yet not much has changed since 1919. Technology may evolve, but the underlying concept remains identical. Over 60,000 Canadian men died in WWI, and another 45,300 in WWII – people who did not need to die. It is strange that human beings still seek out a means to destroy each other.

When you look at all the wars and conflicts throughout the world, there is one common factor that unites them all:


Fear is everywhere.  It is the driving force behind all conflict. WWII happened because people had a fear of communism.  Genocides occur as a result of a fear that people could be different from what that which you are familiar with. Conflicts for profit, for things like oil, expansion of territory, and rivalry – all come out as a fear of someone, some other nation, having more than you.

If we are to co-exist as a unified human race, then we must accept that there must be a unified responsibility. We cannot attribute ‘human nature’ for our mistakes. We must take responsibility, as a global community, for the crimes committed.

No matter how anti-war you may feel, it is important not to take it out on the men and women who are sacrificing their lives for our country, and for other world citizens. They have chosen a dangerous profession. They display an admirable level of nationalism, something that is unheard of in most parts of Canada.

It is odd, however, that we do more for natural disasters, which we have no control over, than we do for conflict, these human-made disasters. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been sent to assist the recent earthquake in Haiti, yet if we send money to Afghanistan we are ‘funding a war’.  If we put more effort into prevention, the world would be not be on a steep slippery slope to demise, and instead it would be ascending the mountain of unity and peace (something that presently seems to be a mountain only in the land of fantasy and idealism).

If instead of placing our veterans in care homes, leaving them there alone to deal with everything they’ve been through, we rejoiced all the work they’ve done for our country, then we could end the conflict. It is impossible for us to move forward, strongly into the future, if we do not learn from our mistakes in the past.

Then, veterans will not need to hold their heads in their hands when they realize that despite all that they have given up; there are still thousands of others who are sacrificing their lives to fight the ongoing battle against Fear.

// Samantha Thompson
assistant news editor

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