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April 27, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial

In my sixth form year of high school, one major thing happened to me. My grandfather, Derek Hay, was diagnosed with dementia. This happened after he suffered a stroke during a hip operation. One day after I returned home from school I got a call to say that Poppa had had a fall, and that I should come over and help Grandma. When I got there Poppa was having a flashback from his service years. Suddenly we were transported back to some battlefield in Southeast Asia, and I was no longer Jackson, but a brother in arms. Poppa was calling for more ammunition and that he was wounded. Whizz bangs were going off around us, and suddenly I transmogrified into a Jap…

This was the first and only time I heard anything like this from my grandfather. He didn’t talk about the experiences he had to anyone. Not my mother, uncles, or his wife Joan. He did however always instill a sense of proprietary into me that we should honour those of us who fought to keep New Zealand free, and that we should never ever glorify war.

I was at the dawn parade on ANZAC day. Not because I support war—far from it—but because I believe the sacrifices our grandparents and great grandparents made for us are worthy of me losing a few hours sleep and solemnly standing reflecting on how good it is to live in a free and democratic society.

New Zealand is a place where a happy medium has been reached. We turn to the state to intervene in our lives—generally when it suits us—and in return the state asks that we pay tax and abide by the laws that parliament sets down. We may not agree with those laws the whole time, but hey, that is the price of democracy; there is nothing magical about this social contract. You work. You study. You make money. You lose money. It is not that bad and it definitely could be worse. This isn’t an argument for apathy—far from it. Complacency with a situation leads to erosion of rights and freedoms and once again we are lucky that we attend a university that can and does act as the critic and conscience of society.

Universities are here to teach us to think critically—if not skeptically—about the world around us. Which is why people—whom I like to call Reactionary Radicals—always surprise me. People who blindly follow some vague ideology with no actual basis. Who protest for change but are afraid of changing themselves. Polemicists.

People like this mess with democracy by simply yelling the loudest—marginalising those who speak sense. To quote those poets of our age, NOFX: “sometimes the smallest softest voice carries the grand biggest solutions”.

People like my Poppa fought so that we can now make the choice not to support war. Their sacrifice has ensured our secluded corner of the globe has had fifty years of steady social and economic progress. We should respect them and their fallen comrades for that reason alone.

I cannot think of a time at primary school, high school or university, where I have ever been taught or told that ANZAC day glorifies war, conflict and violence in any way. I remember veterans coming to my school around ANZAC day and relating stories to us about the horrors and atrocities of war, about the friends they lost, about the physical and emotional wounds they suffered. I could not think of a better advert against war.

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About the Author ()

The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

Comments (18)

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  1. Alyx says:

    Hear hear.

  2. Eli Boulton says:

    Yeah, they fought for our freedom. Because as we all know, if the ANZACs had not fought in Galipoli, we’d all be speaking Turkish right now!

  3. Mr_Hemmy says:

    The same Eli Boulton that did that really bad stand up, “pimples in high definition” skit that no one laughed at and which I saw on somethingawful?

    Fo’ shame.

  4. Liam Nub says:

    ‘ahhh… No, I cannot consent to defend Eli Boulton’s stand up.

  5. Mr_Hemmy says:

    And if the communists hadn’t already failed in every single attempt at being in power, we wouldn’t know that communism doesn’t work. But we remember the people who died in the gulags and such. Fucking commies.

  6. Spud Ranger says:

    I’m going to burn some communists on commie remembrance day

  7. Eli Boulton says:

    yeah the “totally unfunny one noone laughed at” which was for a show aimed for kids and which was recorded from an audience-canceling microphone. Was pretty unfunny though, I had not realized until I saw the video recording.

    Good way to derail the argument, just what I’ve come to expect from the cesspool that is the Salient comments section.

    If someone could actually prove to me how exactly the ANZACs “died for our freedom”, that’d be great.

  8. Spud Ranger says:

    When you can’t even make kids laugh, you know you need a better job than a communist comedian.

    Hey Eli, don’t you have school in the morning?

  9. Hank Scorpio says:

    Eli Boulton waving his penis at war veterans like a baboon in mating season.

    Eli Boulton, leading the charge.

    Eli Boulton.

  10. goku_karori_28 says:

    Like I need the defunct bastions of cesspool rhetoric and inconsequential mumruings upon the Salient website to conincide with my own bold and boldacious bizmark of blatant informationing and incantations. Heh, smirk, enjoy your “education” Wellingtonians…

    I forgot to log out oh shi-

  11. Electrum Stardust says:

    Had it not been for Britain in WWI, Qingdao would not be liberated from the Germans and returned to Ch… er, wait a minute…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Fourth_Movement#Cause_and_outbreak

  12. Eli Boulton says:

    Spud – No, the sound was recorded from the microphone. You couldn’t hear the laughter. Although a lot of it was probably pity laughter since I do admit it was pretty shit. And no I’m at Auckland Uni now.

    Jesus christ now I remember why I stopped commenting here.

    Again: Could someone provide some proof that soldiers actually fight for our freedom and not for capitalist governments? It’s such a well-accepted concept surely it must have some evidence to back it up.

  13. goku_karori_28 says:

    heh pack it up anzaculures, eli’s got this one in the bag

    heh, fighting for freedom

    heh, fighting for anything

    smirk, like i’m going to war, right eli?

    heh a pirate’s life for me

    smirk

  14. Spud Ranger says:

    Aww you’re at Auckland University. Maybe you should go harass Craccum and leave the cultured Wellingtonians be?

  15. goku_karori_28 says:

    the only doors the likes of eli and i knock on are the doors of opportunity, smirk.

    anyone else here been offered a grant to study at the king wizard’s cloak school of fantasy anad wizardry?

    heh thought not

    i’ve got 99 problems but an eight-sided dice isn’t one

    keep on rolling ANZACulures… down the hill… to get to the bottom… like toilet paper (c) 2009 gk28

    smirk

  16. Eli Boulton says:

    Spud – k sexy ;) :3

  17. Spud Ranger says:

    B-but Eli, I’m a capitalist!

  18. Eli Boulton says:

    Spud – but you’re a communist in my heart <3

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