Today is Remembrance Sunday, when we stop to pay respects to all those who contributed in the world wars and later conflicts. At the heart of the commemoration is two minutes of silence. In an age of almost constant noise and activity – our civilisation seems restless – silence has a commanding power. By not saying anything, it demands to be heard.
Remembrance is an opportunity to meditate upon the choices and actions that built the world we live in today. Many minds will cross the continent to Germany, once an enemy but now a friend, which this weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall did not just tumble. It was broken down, both by the West and, more importantly and at incredibly personal risk, by the courageous dissenters living under the East German regime.
Communism claimed to elevate man to the status of a god, but in reality was quite inhuman: it denied human nature and, to force people to conform, eventually denied their very humanity. The collapse of the Eastern bloc was a triumph for the entire world but never inevitable, and it took many lives. Yesterday, Germans placed roses in a remaining section of the wall, honouring all those who died trying to escape it.
The two minutes silence that we mark today echoes with the desire for freedom and the sacrifices made in war to achieve it. It is a silence that every generation must listen to.