Last year, at the start of my Justice/Chickens piece I said I’d missed the day and hadn’t quite formulated my thoughts. This year, I have attempted to marshal them in time.
I note what an emotive subject this is, and I sense an expectation to wear poppies and say the “right thing” around Armistice day. Those two minutes of silence always make me uncomfortable as I wonder quite what to think, having been a pacifist for as long as I knew what one was – though I had strongly been drawn to the military as a child.
You’ll also note that I opposed to the idea of debt, so this being a day of reflecting on what we owe is also not something I am comfortable with.
I realise that for those who have been in war, or their loved ones have, that they believe they have made a brave sacrifice in serving their country in order to keep the rest of us safe. I am respectful of the sentiment behind this, and most of all, of the trauma and suffering caused for all those concerned.
It is that trauma that asks why it is ever suitable to serve in this way. What is being achieved when for everyone involved, there is ongoing pain (either from bereavement, stress, disfigurement…)
I am also against the manipulation being used around poppy day – an unsaid pressure to wear one (as seen in so many photographs of officials this time of year) and I feel, a lack of freedom of expression around the subject. As I learn more about what went on during the war, I am increasingly infuriated by the amount of control exerted by our own side: employing women to give out cowards kisses to men not in uniform; to imprison and even kill your own; some have even been coerced into being assassins for their country, unbidden to share their burden; destroying heritage as well as animals.
I never see violence as a way to solve violence. We solve no other conflict in this way, so why between countries? And why is it seen as heroic to have been part of inflicting that violence on others? Saving others and extreme survival are medal worthy – that is not.
I am pleased to be part of a service tomorrow to pledge to stop all wars. Though I realise there are many reasons to wear red poppies, but mine will be white, as part of that pledge.