November 11, 2019 – Call For Unity

November 11th brings us back every year in Remembrance. It is consistently the most emotionally-challenging day of the year for me, perhaps the only time I’ve historically allowed myself to express my deepest gratitude for Canada and for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. Honoring their sacrifice is a part of my earliest memories.

At the beginning of every one of his conferences, Martin Armstrong emphasizes this principle: “Everything is connected.” And by interpolation, everyone is connected.

But first, let us honor the solemnity of this important day, lest the sacrifice of our warriors – past and present – be forgotten or trivialized…like the 65 year old guy who just responded to the barista’s query about whether or not he would be attending the local Remembrance Day ceremonies. He shrugged his shoulder and said, “Been there, done that.” Apathy leads to lost connections.

So, what can you and I actually do to honor the sacrifice of our fallen, beyond just Remembrance Day? I have one idea, and perhaps you have others.

Whose honest heart is not stirred by the lonely trumpet playing “The Last Post?” On this day, whose eyes do not overflow at the very mention of the iconic names in our history: Passchendaele, Hill 70, Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, Juno Beach, Korea’s Hill 355, and Kandahar province?

These names and the faces of the fallen evoke images of grit, toughness, determination, bravery, comradery, sacrifice, valour, and they flood our souls with thoughts of our highest ideals – the most meaningful values that CONNECT us as Canadians, as communities, as families and within ourselves.

We are strong AND tender, stoic AND fierce, innovative AND traditional, polite AND proud. We are lovers AND defenders of liberty against the forces of evil that prey upon the innocent and the defenseless. We are slow to anger AND the best ally to have in a tight situation.

And yet, war remains mankind’s greatest failure; it’s what happens when adversaries turn into enemies and they stop talking. It’s what happens when powerful people lose the trust from face-to-face contact, and our oldest deep-seated fears erupt into mistrust, blame, separation and conflict.

War is innocence lost; war is Lost Connections. The greatest challenge is to build and re-build connections. Please indulge me as I share some history. I assure you, it is all connected. Perhaps lesser known than the battles noted above is the Battle of the Scheldt. While parts of Antwerp, Belgium were liberated in early September 1944, her vast, sprawling port facilities were the linchpin. The 80 kilometer-long Scheldt River Estuary connects Antwerp to the Atlantic.

Securing the Scheldt was absolutely essential to supplying the Allied Forces with fuel, food, and equipment so they could finish the job of chasing the Nazis back into Germany. Without safe access to Antwerp, the Allied Forces would suffocate, the enemy could dig in and many thousands more lives would have been lost.

Victory over tyranny literally pivoted here in South Holland. It was, in my view, the single greatest battle when Canadians – from every region and tradition – stepped up with Allies to deliver the fatal blow to Hitler.

The Nazis fully understood the significance of the Scheldt. They sent their fiercest and most loyal remaining soldiers there. They had fortified its entire length, especially on the south bank at Breskens, and on the north bank at Flushing where the Scheldt’s flow turns salty.

The winter of 1944-45 was brutally wet and cold, and it was that moment in history when Canada took its rightful place in the world. The roads atop the grid of dykes in “The Breskens Pocket” were a shooting gallery and the polders between were waist-deep mud; the infantry soldiers were “fish in a barrel.” Those who survived reported never having been dry for up to 8 months. Many kept their boots on for several months straight. It took the grit and toughness of soldiers from harsh climates to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

Under the first-ever Canadian Field Command, Norwegian and Polish soldiers (who had escaped their occupied countries) fought to liberate their families and countries. They were fighting to get home and reconnect with the people and land they loved. Scots fought side by side with our boys so their families would remain free. The Canadian soldiers were the good guys who came from afar to liberate the oppressed.

Everyone fought to be able to return home safely to reconnect with the people and the land they loved. They were brothers in arms, galvanized by the ideal of freedom against a justifiably demonized tyrant. They fought, bled, cried and even died together as one unified force for good. And they are ALL heroes.

Walcheren Island faces the Atlantic, and was perhaps the most heavily fortified and armed of all Nazi-held positions throughout Europe. Westkapelle and Middleburg were thought to be impenetrable, but we had one notable advantage: The Canadian Corps of Engineers, aka “The Sappers.” The Sappers designed the world’s first landmine-sweeping equipment, and numerous other mechanical innovations that prevented literally thousands of Allied casualties.

They knew that victory hung in the balance. Through exhaustive study they came to understand that much of Walcheren Island had been reclaimed from the ocean by decades of dyke building. The Sappers developed precision maps for the Royal Air Force bombers to target. The frigid Atlantic reclaimed many square miles in behind Nazi’s outermost pillboxes, crippling their effectiveness.

This made victory possible, but still at horrific cost. Hundreds more died, including brave Canadians, Norwegians, Poles, and German soldiers; and hundreds more starving Dutch civilians including the brave men and women of the Dutch Underground – the Resistance. The horrors of war on the civilian populations of occupied nations cannot be over-stated; the trauma is passed on through the generations, until we break the cycle of DISCONNECTION, and find our way home to the people and land that we love.

Winning the Battle of the Scheldt Estuary is – in my opinion – the single greatest military contribution that the women and men of our amazing country (back home AND overseas) have ever made to the cause of freedom, democracy and peace. It was not the final battle, but it was the key inflection point that made victory possible over the tyranny, oppression and maniacal genocide perpetrated by Hitler’s dictatorship. To learn more, please refer to “Tug of War” by the late Denis Whittaker.

Thanks for tolerating my clumsy summary of this battle. Mere words can never do justice to the sacrifices made, but words are all I have. I share it with you because of the connection to my family and our great country, and what I see as a very significant danger of future disconnection here at home.

Simply put, I would not exist, nor would my family, if it were not for Canada. I was conceived in the midst of overwhelming grief around November 11, 1966 and born five weeks after Canada’s Centennial, a mere 3 days before the devastating first anniversary of my sister’s death.

 

Modern research has now proven that our physical bodies carry and transmit the effects of trauma. Click here for a fascinating and entertaining video by Harvard professor Bessel van der Kolk, author of “The Body Keeps the Score.” As he notes, the only proven antidote to severe trauma is deeply connected long term relationships. Wow.

Colors are the bridge. Our chosen colors matter…more profoundly than you might realize. They represent our tribes, our clans, our communities, our provinces and our country. Red, white and blue have always been my favorite colors. They’re the colors of the Red Ensign flags that draped the trucks and tanks of the Canadian Armed Forces that rolled through the streets of newly-liberated Holland in May of 1945. They are the same colors as the Dutch flag.

My parents and their families lined the streets of Ilpendam and Krommenie, their hometowns near Amsterdam. They were all emaciated by the deliberate starvation of the Dutch people…one final, drawn-out act of violence and horror perpetrated by the ideologically possessed. My mother’s family was forced to eat their family pet just to survive.

Next year the Dutch will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Spring. They will celebrate the liberation of their tiny country by the true heroes of the Canadian Armed Forces, and those who supported the war effort at home. I will be there too for the first time since age 3 to RECONNECT with my history, with my parents’ homeland, and hopefully with some of the remaining uncles, aunts and cousins I’ve never known. I will visit battlefields and cemeteries, and probably drink more beer than necessary.

My parents shared many of the horrors of surviving the occupation. Just as soldiers cannot bear the pain of telling you everything, my parents could not tell us everything. We learned about the starvation, the senseless death and destruction, DISCONNECTION from a hopeful future, the fear that never went away, and the dangers of the slow creep of global socialism that germinated underground during the occupation. Only decades later did I learn that it was much worse

So, what’s the CONNECTION to today, here in the West? When I was a teen, my father told me, “There will come a time when you – and all Canadians – will need to stand up and fight for freedom…not with guns and tanks, but with your words and ideas.” That time is now.

Here in the West, we have reached our breaking point. Jumping straight to separation out of fear, desperation and feeling disrespected isn’t wise, necessary or loving. History shows us that it’s ALWAYS better to renegotiate relationships – political, business and personal – than to let our fears burn them down, forcing us to walk away and rebuild.

It’s not that Albertans and our prairie family cannot handle independence. There is literally nothing we’re incapable of. We have the moral high ground, we have the intellectual substance, we have the resources, and we have the grit and resolve. We have the bigger and sharper sword, but must be wise in how we use it. We are independent-minded, but CONNECTION through voluntary interdependence is the way we are meant to live. It’s the difference between merely surviving and thriving.

So, this is my humble call for unity…to work together to find that narrow and winding path to peace and harmony, so that we can RECONNECT where necessary and stay CONNECTED through new agreements. This is delicate.

Peace is not merely the absence of war; it is a state of justice in the soul of a nation. This state of justice – or WHOLENESS – in our province and nation are only possible if we are each as just and connected as we can become. WHOLENESS begins within and grows in a non-linear way only by CONNECTION to our intimate partners, families, communities, and so on. Our nation is our own soul writ large.

Just look around the world and see how the cycles of civil unrest and war are rising. Our chance to moderate this situation is RIGHT NOW, in this present moment. If we choose not to accept this challenge, the price will be more than we want to imagine.

As a practical matter, should Albertans need a passport to visit the Wine Capital of Canada or to see the Raptors play a home game? But that’s just the start.

Do you honestly think the Laurentian Elites and their hacks in the establishment media & government apparatus (but I repeat myself) will allow the world’s third largest weapons testing range – sitting atop and adjacent to the world’s third largest oil reserves – to simply be annexed without a serious fight?

Are you willing to force the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces to choose between loyalty to Canada and loyalty to The Republic of Alberta or Buffalo?

Do you really want the soldiers of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry from CFB Edmonton in a shooting war with troops from the Royal 22’s?

Do you really want our pilots from 4-Wing Cold Lake in dog fights with comrades from CFB Trenton, when they should be guarding our northern border and flying over the Grey Cup game?

I say no. Actually, I mean NO!

Regardless of our individual stories, we are all Canadians. We fight together under one flag for just causes in foreign lands. We wear the white hats, and we cannot allow ourselves to turn our weapons on each other. We are better than that!

The time to prevent further disconnection, unnecessary strife and separation is NOW, in this present moment.

Our province and country need everyone right now to engage in dialogue…at dinner table conversations, at the office, on the rigs, on the radio, in the newspaper and at conferences.

We’re literally over a barrel, so we need Coopers, black (haired) Smiths, stoic scholars who hunt ducks and those who don’t Mintz words; we need those who write books and create films, those who design & build & fix the things that keep us warm. We need those who care for the sick and the dying.

We need those who write a sharp Letter-Kenney. We need Moe…and Groucho, Larry, and Curly for some comic relief. We all have something to give, and we all need to speak up, and to listen.

And we absolutely need to partner equally with First Nations, to help them reconnect to their past and with meaningful work and to allow them to self-determine. First Nations leaders like Dale Swampy and his brothers are – in my opinion – the single most important ingredient in keeping our country together.

The longest night approaches rapidly. Many fear the long nights, as they can lead to the darkest nights of the soul where we cannot escape the terror of our deepest fears. But we can choose to build a campfire and welcome those who wish to sit with us.

We need to connect – perhaps re-connect – so we can transcend the everyday, and enjoy the fruits of mutual protection and harmony.

But this ALL starts with the person in the mirror. Then – through CONNECTIONS – with those we love, trust and voluntarily depend upon…and then it spreads, gains strength and accelerates.

Our nation needs us each to be our very best selves, our true selves, to be whole; that is how we can move forward and find that narrow, winding path to a lasting peace, prosperity and integrated sustainability. That is how we can truly come home and stay here, where we belong.

Our flag’s Red, White and Alberta blue still look best together. I’m open to adopting Green and Brown…but not for football. Everyone has limits!

The world needs more Canadian energy, and it all starts with you and I. Please click here to let music carry us forward 

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