On days such as today, it's not uncommon to come across the biblical verse, John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." While the sentiment was, and for many, is noble, holds truth and creates a solemnity, I object to the continued use of this verse, for the very mindset it purports.
You see, we've been blessed, many of us, to live not only in two centuries, but in two millennia. And, a privilege of marking that experience is to grow, to evolve, to reflect on that past and to learn from it, not mindlessly keep replaying the folly of it, over and over.
I'm not here to insult your religion. I had that same religion for a while. There are a lot of lovely thoughts and statements and intentions within the tradition. There's also an enormous amount of horseshit in those pages: human sacrifice, murder of the innocents, prohibitions on random foods and many, many superstitions that were codified by desert nomads of over 3,000 years ago. While the message of love, inclusion and hope are eternal, not eating shellfish, keeping slaves, bearing shame, giving your virgin daughters to a rowdy crowd and the like should be vestiges of the past.
Oh, and for those who draw their wisdom for this day and age from that day and age and who purport to know the 'definition of marriage', please tell me the last time you kept slaves, stoned your neighbor to death, traded your daughter for livestock or had more than one wife - I find your reading and your application highly selective.
Be informed, learn lessons but use discernment. We simply can't keep repeating the sins of the past by referring our lives, ethics and morals against primitive tribesfolk.
So, let me put it back to the affirmative... what if we changed the script, after 2,000 years, to "Greater love has no man, than to work his entire life in peace to ensure no man ever dies for another, for an ideal or for the conceits of others." Or "Greater love have we not for life than we choose not to place it at jeopardy within the institutionalized hatred of war."
Thus, I ask today - yes, honor those who have fallen, yet do everything in your power to ensure no one else's son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister, or father or mother ever has to die to serve causes created from fear, ignorance, intolerance or greed. They fight to defend us - how about if we stop offending and then we won't have to keep defending.
Really, 3,000 years later, with every intellectual, social, moral, ethical and spiritual advancement we've made, and we still aren't at our core revolted, repulses and indignant that a very small group of poorly minded individuals feels free to kill our countrymen and countrywomen, and the best we can do is put flags or ribbons on the car, and have a BBQ. Each of us, everyone, is either working for peace and non-violent conflict resolution, or are simply a gear in the war machine that kills our beloveds in the cause of killing another's beloveds.
Do what you can, do what you will, but someday, create a world where you have to explain to your children's children that we used to have this holiday where we mourned those we killed while they killed those who we believed would kill us... and live for the moment when you see the confusion on their faces, because it's all so primitive and absurd.
Let's co-create that; for if we don't, we institutionalize what we do. And, of course, give thanks and praise, while making a better world!