Remembrance Day; Proving Time Is Relative, With Help From Yann Martel and Shifted Perception

On November 11th 1918, around 11:00 AM, a ceasefire was agreed upon by the leading political powers of the time. The actual day that is known as Remembrance Day (Poppy Day and Armistice Day elsewhere) wasn’t ultimately drafted until 1919 when King George V proposed a day to honour those who had passed during the Great War. To this day, schools and government institutions in Canada hold a moment of silence to honour the passing of the men and women who have fought, do fight, and will fight for their countries (and the freedoms that their people hold).

Today is Remembrance Day and while honouring the moment of silence dedicated to the fallen soldiers, I remembered the words of a fellow student during my younger years. To say the word student would be making light of our relationship, as we were close friends, and the paradigm he questioned wasn’t done in defiance, but more so in genuine wonder. The question was, and still is, relatively simple: Why do we only honour the fallen soldiers once a year, instead of everyday?

Certainly, the question has a logical basis; while most schools in Canada offer a moment of silence after the mandatory listening of the anthem (whether the students choose to sing or not is an entirely inconsequential point), this time is usually not spent thinking about past wars. The soldiers who fight for the freedoms and liberties that most students every day are also not in their collective minds either. This is why today, while in a moment of silence considering humanity, war, fate, freedom, liberty and several other words that are thrown around (by those who understand, or who don’t), I also thought about time and motivation.

A few weeks ago I discussed the possibility of doing something out of the ordinary with another friend of mine; the planned event was irrelevant and it soon became a session to come up with the most impossible scenario imaginable. At one point, for example, building a hot-air balloon and flying it around the world was considered; I can personally guarantee that neither my friend nor I have the insight nor knowledge of aerodynamics to even consider such a feat (even though we did think it a fun endeavour). Of course, the real problem wasn’t our lack of physical and chemical knowledge, but a lack of time on my part to learn about hot-air balloons, coupled with a complete lack of motivation on his. It still annoys me to admit it, but I’m afraid I must: my friend didn’t have the motivation, and I didn’t have the time.

That being said, our dilemmas were infinitely related, but were ultimately polar opposites and, incidentally enough, I’ve noticed that this dilemma extends past the two individuals who want to recreate a landmark moment in history. I’ve found that those who have the motivation to act don’t have the time, and those who have the time to act, are not motivated enough. Simply put, while I want to do everything, I simply don’t have the time to do anything, and while my friend has all the time in the world, he doesn’t want to do anything to begin with. I’d like to mention that no matter how much I defend myself by stating that I have something that I want to achieve, I am no better than my friend. The truth of the matter is a simple argument of perception: if I have enough motivation to do something, nothing short of universal intervention should stop me. Of course, obvious restrictions like money, government permits, and the intervention of NORAD ( the North American Air Defence Command) stand in the way of my aeronautical dreams, but time certainly shouldn’t be my primary concern.

Therein, I believe is where the paradigm of time in regards to motivation begins to become more than just trivial: with enough motivation, one can make time for their goals and achievements. Yann Martel, a Canadian author, is a perfect example of this. In 2007, Martel began the What Is Stephen Harper Reading? project; he sent a single book to the Canadian prime minister every two weeks and provided a letter to compliment the literature. The works he sent varied and each book had to do with a different aspect of human psychology (as a good book is wont to do) and while Martel only received two or three responses from the Prime Minister’s office (Harper was busy with foreign affairs; motivated with all the time in term, of course) he continued carrying out bi-monthly acts of political “Pestering” as an act of civic duty. This article’s point, however, is not that we must all be like Martel and stimulate educated and imaginative responses from our leaders, but that time should not be a constant that hinders our motivations.

I use Martel as an example because, in the forward of the book that aggregated his letters to the Prime Minister, he specifically singled out time as the reason he assumed that Harper was unable to respond. I use Martel as an example of an individual who acted on motivation, without the general anxiety that time places on those who have ideas. Suffice it to say, Martel had an idea (or motivation) and ran with it, without regard for time. In summation, I use Martel because he ultimately answers my young friend’s question; we don’t think about the soldiers forfeiting their lives and futures for the liberties we hold dear because we feel we don’t have the time. Rather, we feel we don’t have the time because we simply haven’t adjusted our perceptions to accommodate for this shift in ideology.

It’s not a matter of politics or humanitarianism, and it certainly isn’t because conflict resolution is the single most difficult human event to acknowledge; it’s a physical truth: time is relative. Therefore, I’d like to to propose a paradigm; everyday, between the time we wake up and the time we carry on with our daily routine, I propose that we do something extraordinary and take a moment (a single, fleeting moment) to think and remember.

It doesn’t matter what we choose to remember and the moment we take certainly doesn’t have to be one of reflection, but merely one of thought: every single day, before the routine begins, remember something. I believe that this will prove that, given the fact that we can make enough time to remember a single moment, time is not the primary inhibitor when it comes to motivation. That honour goes to perception.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!


  1. It can be difficult to write about this topic. I feel you did an superb job though! Thanks for this!

    • Thank you, I tried to be as tasteful as possible while also discussing my opinion. I’m glad that it turned out well.

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