Today I went to church.
Now before you all hurl your computers out the window in disgust, allow me to explain.
I'm currently living in Sweden where, due to 200 years of neutrality and peace (which according to the priest can be attributed to their secularism, a strange admission), they don't commemorate Remembrance day. However, being British, I wanted to pay my respects to the service men and women who have fought and died for me in wars past and present, so I went along to the Remembrance day service at a small English Anglican church.
I haven't been to church for a very long time, I only set foot in them when family members deem it necessary to host weddings, christenings and funerals. When I do, anger sets in as I think of all the suffering they have caused, the money they have wasted, and the stupidity they continue to spread through our societies. My anger increases as priests misconstrue the facts in order to justify their existence, manipulating their flock with emotional button pressing. And when we were told how much we had sinned and how we should commit to being more faithful and responsible, it was all I could do not to storm out in disgust.
The congregation were a keen bunch, praying enthusiastically, and overflowing the collection baskets with large notes. I felt pity and shame for them, their need for faith, hope, and community fulfilled by parasitical authority, their trust and honesty abused in the name of ancient lies.
But I wasn't there to get annoyed by religion. I was there to remember those who have fought, suffered, and died for me. To thank them, not god. That their lives have been taken by ignorance, that we are still manipulated into fighting for irrelevancies such as race, religion, or country, is of little consequence. That those truly responsible for their suffering, the authorities of government and religion, not only continue to get away with it but profit from the suffering, matters not.
The fact is, they did what they thought was right for the good of mankind. Their bravery and selflessness has given us the freedom so that one day we might never have suffering again. My gratitude is exceeded only by my resolve to ensure they did not suffer in vain.