Lest We Forget

We’re in the page of history books titled “Contributing Factors”. The next page is a map with lots of arrows

A few days ago we wore our poppies and bowed our heads to remember the bravery of those who died and continue to serve to defend our rights and freedom. And rightly so — but how often do we stop to remember the reasons they were sent to fight in the first place?

In recent months, Britain voted to leave the EU, the influx of refugees in Europe stirred up alarmingly racist sentiment, and Donald Trump ran a campaign based on a foundation of scapegoating minorities for the problems Modern America faces. Nationalism, the concept I read about in my history books, isn’t just a bullet point on a test but a very real issue that we once hoped we’d never have to discuss again. Disturbing patterns are repeating themselves, patterns that we can only watch with a careful eye and try not to think of the parallel events that happened decades ago, and the outcomes that followed.

There’s a dangerous arrogance in people who know better, who recognize the danger of this rhetoric. There’s a comfort in thinking that no amount of racism and bigotry can show itself on a national stage in a Western country without consequence, that surely we’ll collectively realize how abhorrent it is.

And then Britain votes to leave the European Union, and Donald Trump is elected President.

History shows us what happens when a desperate population starts believing charismatic leaders who know how to play to emotions. We’ve seen it once, we like to believe it can’t happen again. We forget how quickly words turn into wars when left unchecked, when we lock ourselves in our bubbles and ignore the possibility that there are in fact people willing to believe whatever they have to if it means that the country they thought they knew will come back.

No wars have been declared, it’s not the end just yet. There’s still time if we pay attention to the history books, if we cut the dangers off at the pass. Let’s think about the bravery of the men and women who fought for us and work to ensure that another generation will never be put in that position.