Remembering them

Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday. We impressed on the explorers that it would be nice that they turned up on Sunday, and was pleased some of them did. Explorers tend to be exempt from sponsorship agreements with places of worship, so there was no obligation for those that turned up. So I was really impressed with the turn out from Blacksheep.

Actually the Explorers have impressed me a lot lately. I planned and ran quite a serious evening on mental health issues last Wednesday. It was quite a serious topic, and even though there was a small amount of chatter, most of it was relatively grown up discussion of the topic in hand. I was very pleased with the way the evening went, it was a great success.

Back to Remembrance Sunday, and I have to admit some concordance with both James G and James C over the self righteousness of White poppies, with a Christian group deeming Red Poppies “politically correct”. Some people I know have very sensible reasons for not wearing the red poppy. Howvwer beyond the news story the last white poppy I saw was back in my days as a Venture Scout when the leader of Dovers VSU was an ex-serviceman, and we were childish. I don’t see the red poppy as glorifying war, given remembrance is all about reflecting on those who were killed in battle. Nor do I buy the idea that those who wear red poppies don’t remember civilian casualties. Contrary to what is suggested in the latest furore the poetry then red poppy image comes from doesn’t in an way suggest war is a Good Thing.

During the service at the Church, Barry Overend, the vicar, gave what I thought was a good talk on the meaning of some of the traditional remembrance hymns. It made it very clear why St Chads goes in for the less modern side of its hymn books given his enthusiasm for the musical history of the church. However it may have been better aimed at a Women’s Institute or musical society evening than a sermon to a general audience, as I was a little bored, let alone the cubs.

The weekend brought up various conflicting ideas regarding what people in the war fought for. Two things spring to mind. This morning a friend of a friend sent a link to a Daily Mail article about an unrelated subject, and I noted the poppy at the top of the page. On Friday the odious Nick Griffin was cleared of inciting racial hatred, and was depicted wearing a red poppy. I realise the poppy is an emblem from the great war, but both the Mail and Griffin stand for the very values that we fought against in the subsequent conflict, even in the diluted “secure the borders” mildly xenophobic message prevalent in the mail.

And yet there’s a dilemma. Silencing these people would also be insulting the efforts of those that have died for us because it would be fighting fascism with fascism. The fact that what Griffin said was not illegal does not make it right, and nor does it mean we should be toughening the law to make sure it’s illegal. We should let people like that have their say, and they can condemn themselves out of their own mouths. Unfortunately freedom sometimes means having to hear things we dislike.

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