Thursday, 10 November 2016

Remembrance has become a struggle between war and peace makers

There has been another silly argument over the past week concerning whether the England and Scotland football teams should be allowed to wear the poppy on their shirts for the international match on Friday.
It is a stupid objection from FIFA to the wearing of the poppy, yet it has brought the issue into the public discourse. Remembrance Sunday has been an important event for the best part of the past century, paying tribute to those who died in the world wars.
The original idea was to remember the sacrifice and incredible loss caused by those conflicts. An underlying intention has been that by remembering the tragedy of the past, that the recurrence of  such an appalling slaughter might be avoided in the future.
However, over recent years there seems to have been a cutting away at that worthy peace making aim, moving the occasion instead onto being a jingoistic celebration of war.
It is noticeable how remembrance has moved from a few events over the weekend (nearest to 11 November) to something that now runs over weeks. Poppies began being worn this year in late October. Football clubs were having minutes of silence, with soldiers marching around the grounds weeks before the actual remembrance weekend.
The transformation or remembrance seems to have been something that has gone on over the past decade, coinciding with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It has been sad to see the dignity of the Remembrance Day sullied by those who seek to use the occasion to effectively promote war. Remembrance should be about remembering in order to avoid it all happening again in the future.
Maybe there should be other elements to remembrance, like remembering the contributions that this country has made to conflicts around the world in its role as a major trader in weapons.
The lamentable British response to the refugee crisis - much of it caused by a conflict, - where British weapon supplies have played a part in contributing to the devastation.
The recent shameful foot dragging about the acceptance of refugees from the Calais “jungle” is another insult to those who fought for freedom in the two world wars.
Let’s also remember the reasons for fighting in the world wars, namely to ensure freedom, tolerance and democracy. How does attacking those who don’t wish to wear a poppy – for whatever reason – fit in with those ideals?
Sadly, the remembrance day celebration seems to have become a tug of war between those who genuinely want to mark the sacrifice and suffering of many in order to secure our freedom and those cynically seeking to exploit the occasion to whip up a jingoistic patriotism that in its worse forms amounts to the promotion  of war.
This year things have been even worse with the growing antagonism toward the foreigner in post EU referendum Britain. A time when the worst elements of the British character have come to the fore – a mean minded island dweller looking inward to protect what he has, rather than looking out in a spirit of generosity to embrace others in a drive for a more peaceful co-existent world.
It can only be hoped that the peacemakers, who seek to mark this time of year for the losses incurred come out on top and that those seeking to promote war under the aegis of remembrance are defeated. Those who have fallen in war deserve no less.


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