Friday, 6 November 2015

Wearing of the Poppy

Militarism in all its forms is saddening. At best it is legalised barbarism, at worst it is pathetic machismo. It’s significant that some of the most sustainable progressive reforms have been influenced by fearsome opponents of militarism rather than military power. Suffragettes, Ghandi and Martin Luther King come to mind. War doesn’t achieve anything talking doesn’t. That’s why, after war, they always have to talk anyway. So why not fast forward to the talking bit?

I oppose para-militarism as well as so-called legal armies but I do not accept that any armies have moral superiority. All armies commit atrocities, whether by accident or design. All armies kill civilians, no matter what technological or moral safeguards our leaders claim are in place.

See, our leaders are not like you and me. They are playing geopolitical games where their own aims and reputations are far more important to them than mere human life.  In this military-political moral twilight, politicians become psychopaths in that they suspend all empathy with mothers of babies, of children with parents, brothers with sisters as they prepare to force a path through human life in pursuit of their sacred aims which usually are presented as “saving civilisation”, the same civilisation they are reducing to rubble and grief.

This gives some understandably a problem when it comes to the poppy. For many, especially victims of militarism, the seeming worshiping of the poppy is alienating as those telling us to wear poppies are often (though not always) unconditional supporters of British militarism. If your family or community has been abused, maimed or killed by an army supported by poppy wearers then naturally you’d feel that you were not part of the same society that has institutionalised support of the poppy.

But it depends on what the poppy means to the wearers, of which I am one. The thought that my wearing the poppy signifies support for an increasingly jingoistic war machine disgusts me. It is also obscene for a poppy to be used as a weapon by ultra-British nationalists as a weapon to beat everyone else into fealty to “our boys” and “our country”.  This was a feature of British nationalism in Ireland for many years and sadly it seems to be seeping “over the water” as Bullingdon-led Britain seeks to ensure that near worship of the Union Jack becomes a prerequisite to being considered a ‘good citizen’.

I don’t wear my poppy for those cynical hypocrites most of whom, tellingly, have never seen battle in their lives.  To me the poppy symbolises not just remembrance of loved ones passed but also of wanton waste of life, the folly of war and the need to never again let a generation of the world’s youth be buried in mud in another land far from home in pursuit of imperial aims. When I wear my poppy I am thinking of poor terrified young men being forced over the top to near certain death at the behest of a class who seemed to glory in war like it was a game.  

I’ve no beef with being British. Several close relatives of mine, generations in fact, have served in British forces. Those I was fortunate to know personally were thoroughly decent men who believed they were making the world better. They would not be approving of this co-opting of a symbol of remembrance for comrades and family being tainted as it is now when it is used as pseudo-moralistic battering ram against people reluctant to worship slaughter. 

No comments:

Post a Comment