Piddingworth Greg Benton
|'Piddingworth...where St. George's Cross is not yet banned.'
|If ye break faith
with us who die,
we shall not sleep
Col. John McCrae
|Thank you very much
for your support!
OF THE POPPY
|As millions of citizens throughout the old Commonwealth dutifully
wear their red poppies this week, there is, once again, and like skunks at a
picnic, the gate-crashing of 'activists' like the PPU (Peace Pledge Union)
with their impertinent 'white poppies' whose rants intrude on the solemnity
of the silence.
'All we are saying, is we are unhinged'
(Tune: 'Give peace a chance' by Lennon)
Invariably, the whingers for a so-called 'culture of peace', belong to the same
'coalition' of malcontents that have brought us the anti-everything movements,
e.g., anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation, anti-fur wearing, anti-Americanism,
anti-British culture, anti-military, anti-meat (vegans), anti-'poverty' (socialists),
anti-Church (secular 'progressives'), and, of course, anti-'war'.
What they are for, under all their rhetoric, is a lagging notion of statism that
lives for itself and where, everyone having been 'cared for', there will be no
need for armaments, a military, or war because everyone will be
'happy' and at 'peace'; the government of the state having fulfilled
all their needs. The money from where this will come for
'heaven on earth' is not so clear but likely from the same trees into
which some enviro-crazies put nails to prevent them from being harvested.
Thus, the First World War might never have happened if the government
had simply spent it's money on everbody in 'need' as determined by
the state. Of course, this is precisely the approach to the world that
Hitler, Stalin et al took with their own people, except that some of the
citizenry, e.g., the Jews, the disabled, the Gypsies, the homosexuals,
the mentally ill, the Cossacks, Ukrainians, etc. didn't qualify
for acceptance into the 'programme' and, 'regrettably' or not, had
to be 'eliminated'.
What distinguishes this white poppy group is that they are also
anti-remembrance, i.e., the ritual of honouring the sacrifice of the war
dead as well as of the national institutions, aka, the military and the Legion,
that promote the virtue of our warriors, dead, alive, old, new.
They regard the observance, and it's promotion through the poppy fund,
as 'propaganda' for the 'war' industry, e.g., sales of arms, nuclear weapons,
the military and all those who go along with it.
These same types of people, wrapped in their self-serving and pretentious
idealism, have been around in one form or another since the days of the
Fabian socialists and the Oxbridge pacifists of the 20's and 30's whose influence
within society was signficantly known and felt; leading to a then-prevailing
isolationism from the threats of the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and the
Emperor of Japan, and their crowning achievement through Chamberlain's
'We have peace in our time' deal with Adolf.
In this generation, their successors have morphed into an identifiable amalgam
of aging hippies, perfidious clerics, anarchists, Marxist-Leninist nostalgists,
silk-stocking socialists, affluent latte-liberals, and new age dabblers whose
recognisable associative identity seems imbued with an unresolved adolescent
need to hang out with chums and defy authority.
Some, like the 'Raging Grannies', are women of the radical feminist persuasion,
and presumably old enough to be grandmothers, who dress up in the kind of
clothes worn by 'grannies' of three generations ago, and re-live 'Woodstock' with
their songs at protests against (see above).
Others can be all sorts of social activists whose full-time hobby is to gather
and blather for their cause(s). If the world was their kind of perfect, i.e.,
like John Lennon's loathsome song 'Imagine', they'd have to invent something
that would satisfy their disordered need to gather and protest with one another.
The fact that these advocates for 'anything' are in denial and seem unable to
connect the dots between their freedom to think, speak, protest and mock and
the enormous sacrifice that bought them that right is, though not surprising,
still unsettling in the dangerous world in which we live..
Remembrance transcends politics
The evolution of freedom and recognition of the dignity and rights of 'man'
happened, neither overnight, nor by the simple declaration of a state.
The transforming power that permitted them to grow has at times been
confronted with an opposite power to suppress. Our experience as
citizens today, living in freedom, is relatively new in the scheme of
things and, for much of our world, is something, though deeply sought,
can only be hoped for.
Our freedom, our way of life itself, was and is not the choice of some.
There are many who have sought and who would still crush the
precious freedoms we enjoy, and all that that implies. When, in
the past century, a rabid nationalism threatened the civilisation of
the free world with their military might, millions of ordinary citizens
responded, at home and in uniform, to defeat that enemy.
Of those who did their duty in the armed services, millions were
killed and wounded. Millions of others, civilians, also died. The
horror unleashed in war scorched the earth. For those who survived,
the memory of the most calamitous experience of their lives
remained haunting. The sacrifice of a son or daughter for one's
country and one's home, also meant a sacrifice for mothers and
fathers and families. This is true, of course, both for the antagonists
as well as the defenders.
Remembrance is that time, once a year, following the armistice
declared at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh
month, when that sacrifice is held up before us and given the
respect it is justly due. The testimony of the efficacy of that
sacrifice is not only that we remember it but that we live to
preserve what it redeemed for us who have followed; all of which
is symbolised by the wearing of the poppy.
As Colonel John McCrae wrote so poignantly in his famous
poem, In Flanders Fields, 'to you from failing hands we throw
the Torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us
who die, we shall not sleep though poppies grow in Flanders fields.'
At Remembrance, we ritually hold up that Torch for freedom
and civilisation and, both personally and collectively, 'keep
faith' with those who died. There is the music of the warrior
and of the nation and the parade of generations, veteran and
serving, in the armed forces, who visually remind us of
the continuity of service, duty and sacrifice; the Silver Cross
mother symbolising the Motherhood, not only of many
families and their children, but of the Family of the nation
that mourns the sacrifice of her sons and daughters and which
is also so deeply rendered at the monument at Vimy in France.
Those who gather at cenotaphs or simply stop in the normal
course of their day on the eleventh of November, are people
of many kinds; in age, sex, religion, race, culture, and politics.
One may have a different perspective on the causes of this war
or that war or any war or on the politicians or political views
of this leader or that, but at this time, in this place, with a poppy
pinned on them, they are unified, perhaps only at this time of
year, in their collaboration as 'citizens' whose duty it is to honour
the sacrifice and remember.
The so-called 'white poppy' is an affront to, not only the sensibilities
of the vast majority of people for whom Remembrance is precisely
that deeply-held gratitude and conviction in the greatness of the
sacrifice, but a defamation of the poppy itself, the unifying symbol
for all who revere it's meaning.
It is, indeed, a time for silence.
G.B. November, 2007
|In Flanders Fields
by Colonel John McCrae