Sunday, 11 November 2012

Why it's radical to remember

Since 1918, there has been an organised commemoration of the victims of war - not glorifying militarism and pseudo-patriotism, but saluting the courage and sacrifice of generations whose lives were defined by the conflicts that they had done very little or nothing to engender.  It is perfectly possible, and actually much more rational, to remember in the context of the ultimate futility of armed conflicts.  This is not disrespectful to anyone beyond the political caste whose manipulation and failure cost lives and prosperity across the world.

Of all the nauseating spectacles that the right perpetrates, the wrapping of itself in the poppy and the Union Jack is the hardy perennial.  Every year there is a witch-hunt of anyone who appears to dissent from the simplistic narrative of nationalist drivel and narrow-minded conformity that demeans the millions of combatents who have fallen in the service of others.

This is the real disrespect.  For the rest of humanity, we should be ensuring that political and personal morality and conduct precludes repetitions of butchery and mass slaughter, with gratitude to those whose otherwise unsung service provide us with a context in which to this.  Flag-waving and appropriation of a narrative do not achieve anything, beyond demeaning those whose myriad individual experiences are co-opted for a partial narrative.  We cannot allow this to happen, for that would ultimately invalidate the real reason to remember, reflect and contemplate.

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