‘Anzac Speech, 25 April 2014, Remembering and Healing service, Lismore’, Honest History, 30 April 2014
I think it’s appropriate that we honour those Australians who have died in a theatre of conflict – and I think it’s right for us to support those servicemen and women who have returned from war.
Unlike some Australians, however, I also believe it’s important that we don’t stop there but that we question why we have gone to war so often and ask, ‘What can we learn from these experiences that moves us closer to peace?’
What is it about Australia’s cultural attitude that inclines us to travel for a fight? How come Australians have fought and died in Turkey, France, Greece, Crete, North Africa, Palestine, Korea, Borneo, Vietnam, Iraq and now for the last decade in Afghanistan?
I believe the best way to end the suffering of veterans and their families is to make a ‘veteran of war’ a thing of the past? Maybe, by shifting our cultural attitude to war, we can experience greater peace!
Rather than viewing Anzac Day as a day of remembrance ONLY, I think each of us stands to gain from asking such questions – not just of ourselves, but of others.
Questioning is not the same as criticising.
Understanding the circumstances of war, and not agreeing with Australia’s part in war, doesn’t stop us either from supporting our veterans on the one hand OR supporting the cause of peace on the other.
We can learn from the experience of war and make use of that painful lesson to achieve something better. Like peace.
I’ve supported Remembering and Healing because it offers a way forward for peace that is grounded and balanced in nature.
It’s a cultural view that respects all sides of the Anzac debate and rightly recognises that non-violent solutions must become a part of our cultural shift towards a real peace, as opposed to just saying the words.
RJ Poole is a photographic artist and writer, living in Lismore, NSW. He has served in the Australian Army, including the SAS, and worked in the security industry and as a bodyguard, armed escort and adventure and self-defence trainer. He spoke to ABC Radio in 2012 about his background and views.