“At the front we would see examples of self sacrifice and sublime courage by men the church would regard as outside the law. His faith in the church might weaken but his faith in humanity would be better stuff after it.” – A.Y. Jackson
The sickly color and writhing buildings, the spectre-like figures and pale sky – A.Y. Jackson, Canada’s preeminent war artist, makes clear that he has no interest in depicting a “glorious” battle against the Hun in World War I. This is Ypres, Belgium descended into a layer of Hell, seemingly melting into the sodden earth.
As I mark Veteran’s Week here in Canada with the paintings by Jackson, I am reminded of the toll human conflict takes on bodies, souls, minds, cities, villages, fields, animals, life… There is truly nothing that does not suffer when we choose to hurl our wrath and weapons at each other.
For this coming Remembrance Day I choose to remember not only those who sacrificed themselves but all other things that give us our humanity which have been and continue to be assaulted by our own penchant for self-destruction. We must start by being people of peace ourselves.