For me, the phrase ‘the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month’ has always held great power and significance. It represents not only history – the end of the Great War, the First World War, the ‘war to end all wars’ – but also the moment in modern life when we are meant to stop, reflect and remember.
However, I have noticed that in my lifetime (and I’m not that old) many people have ‘stopped stopping’ for those two minutes, they don’t always take the time for this small observance; instead they plough through, ignoring it, or simply forgetting to pause. Not only are they themselves missing an opportunity to stop and reflect, but they are often actively intruding on those who do want to mark that time with silence.
In our constant modern rush we very rarely stop, let alone in silence and stillness. I truly believe that we owe it not only to history but to the future, to pause and reflect for those two minutes – perhaps more now than ever.
The power of the two-minute silence is that it is based in humanity. It is time to reflect on what we owe all the men and women, past and present, who have helped shape our countries both in times of war and times of peace. They lived through events we can never imagine and hope never to experience; recognizing this and showing our gratitude is the least we can do.
Here are five ways to ensure you not only stop for those few minutes but also help encourage others to do the same. These apply whether the 11th falls on a weekday or weekend.
A Reminder to Remember
- Set an alarm/reminder on your mobile or computer. When we get busy, time can rush past. Setting the reminder will ensure you know to stop what you’re doing. It’s best to give yourself a buffer (setting the alarm for 10:55), to be certain you’re not in the middle of a call or task at 11:00am.
In the office
- Set the tone and expectations: send out a communication, first thing on the morning of the 11th, reminding everyone to stop for those few minutes at 11:00am, and encourage everyone to participate.
- Start late: If you have a meeting set for 11:00, change the start time to 11:05 and let attendees know why.
- Start early: Set the start time for 10:50 so that everyone is in the room and can observe together; there is enormous power in the silence of a group.
- If your meeting runs over 11:00am, then put that two-minute observation in the agenda; let everyone know at the start that this will happen, set a reminder on your telephone and make sure to stop.
- Many of us work from home. Even if you are on your own I encourage you to stop for those two minutes. No just being silent but actually stopping, being still and reflecting.
- If you’re home with children this is not only a good opportunity to instill the importance of stopping, reflecting and respecting, but also to talk about what has happened in our collective past and what we want for the future.
Remembrance Day Ceremonies
- If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to attend a local Remembrance Day ceremony. There is nothing more powerful than observing this day together.
I encourage you to find a way to stop, if possible, but however you chose to spend those two minutes, please keep in mind others around you.
Now, more than ever, these words ring out to me: Lest We Forget.
*With many thanks to Curtis Wilson for graciously allowing me to use his beautiful illustration.