Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bedevilled by Men in Medals

I did not wear a Poppy today. I haven't bought one for several years I think, but this year for some reason it's been weighing on my conscience. This morning as I travelled through London on my way to church I saw several veterans proudly displaying their medals on their chests alongside their poppies and I felt so self conscious - my absent poppy felt like it had a very loud presence.

It's not simple apathy - I may not agree with war, but that does NOT mean I am insensitive to the experiences of those who have gone through it. Thing is I have always felt that coupled with the 'lest we forget' and 'rest in peace' there's also a glorification of war in Remembrance day and a celebration of national pride.

My problem with the former is that I'm not convinced that war can ever be justified, but I realise I'm an ungrateful hypocrite saying this because many of the liberties we currently enjoy would be threatened if we were attacked by another country and would I not want these liberties defended? Was it not a moral responsibility to counter Nazi Germany? I think part of the problem now with people like me is that war is so much more remote from us. Sure, the Iraq war is very much in our minds but did it affect us on a day to day basis? It certainly didn't affect my shopping habits and I didn't go to sleep wondering if I'd be alive the next morning. Lest we forget? Maybe we already have?

As to the latter - maybe I don't feel any national pride because I don't see much to be proud of in Britain. I don't feel a sense of Britishness!! London pride definitely but national pride I've never had.But seeing all those men in medals and listening to the sermon today on those willing to give their lives for our country, well it hasn't changed my opinion on war but I do feel strangely guilty of treachery.