Are You in the Arena?

It takes courage to step into the arena.

Today in Canada and in many places around the world, we will stop to remember the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who have taken up the call to battle for freedom. Some of us will attend school gatherings. Some will attend ceremonies at a local cenotaph. Many will go about their daily business but will stop for a minute at 11:00 to silently consider the price of freedom.

There is no way for me to make a comparison between the courage it must have taken for these young people to walk away from everything they knew to fight in a war on the other side of the world and our own call to courage. To do so would be both insensitive and disrespectful.

But what I will say is this… we live in a world where injustice and cruelty are often dismissed as just part of our society. But it doesn’t have to be. That is not the vision of Canada our young men and women fought and died for.

When I stop a young person from making a racist or sexist or homophobic comment, I am honouring their sacrifice. When we write to our politicians to insist on better funding for the services we deserve and which benefit our society, such as health care and education, we are honouring their sacrifice. When we have the courage to ask the person near us in the grocery store to honour the minute of silence at 11:00, we honour their sacrifice.

Any time we step into the arena, that place where we are vulnerable and visible to all the spectators, where others may shame us for our faults, or laugh at us for our errors, we honour their sacrifice.

For them, stepping into the arena meant literally putting their lives on the line. For us, stepping into the arena will likely not mean life or death. For us, having the courage to step into the arena is a choice to get messy, to possibly stand alone, to speak up for what we believe to be true and good and right. For us, stepping into the arena will probably not be met with an enemy holding a gun. But we may be met with an enemy who uses our words against us, who reminds us of our past and asks, “who do you think you are?” There will be critics. That I can guarantee.

Step into the arena with me. Today, find the courage to speak up for what you believe in. Stand up for what you know to be good and true and right. Today, let’s remember those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy. And let’s continue to honour their sacrifice with our words and actions.

And PLEASE take a moment to stop and silently remember today.


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