Wednesday, 12 November 2008

What not to wear...

Trinny and Suzannah, come back, all is forgiven... well, maybe not all... but if we're going to have thought police and style police, at least let someone be getting the good of a few new clothes. I'm conscious that in some minds, the wearing of a red poppy is a sign of conforming to the world as it should be. To others, it is a sign of having bought the lies of the Empire/upper classes/government propaganda...

It ought to be something people do (or don't do) freely, without judging others who do or don't choose to do the same. Yet certain newsreaders aren't scheduled to read the news at this time fo year because it is known they won't wear a poppy. And individuals are put under pressure to wear/not wear one, and potentially risk their job or a bloody nose.

I'm no great fan of some of the thoughtlessness attached to wearing poppies for Armistice Day. I want to ask, "Are you remembering the others who lost their lives too?"
"Are you assuming that the war is just, because it's "our" soldiers fighting?"
"Can we support and remember the soldiers who died and their families, and those who carry their mental and physical scars, whilst acknowledging that others give their lives in what they believe to be their duty?"
In Northern Ireland, particularly, can we learn to remember the cost of war, without pretending that all the wrongs were on the "other side"?

This is about remembering the past, and living with diversity in the present. It is also about dealing with grief and loss. We have to find ways to make room for each other to experience the death and deadliness of war for ourselves; and to protect each other's space to express it as we feel it for now, whilst being committed to hearing and learning from each other.

Our remembering touches who we are at its most vulnerable, and hence most volatile. The Eames-Bradley report into the dirty war of my generation is still to come, and these questions will be all the more relevant in the wake of it. Combine that, the credit crunch and the (actual, if not technical) insolvency of the Presbyterian Mutual Society, to make for a jolly dark 2009.

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