Friday, November 11, 2005

Silence is golden?

With the proliferation in late years of the minute's or even two minutes' silence to remember various tragedies, it occurs to me to wonder whether the silence on Remembrance Day is devalued as a result. As I sit in the office at eleven o'clock, the alarm sounds to mark the start of the silence, I turn off the CD playing in my computer and hope no-one calls. I don't stop working, though. One of my colleagues, V, who's Greek, asks what the poppy is for, and I try to explain. It makes me think about the vast number of people who have died in wars, and the utter senselessness of the world, where killing gets your point across so much more forcefully than talking.

I don't want to write about such concepts as war saving us from tyranny, as any analysis of the aftermath of WW2 will show how many people were then transported and exiled and later murdered without a finger being lifted to help. And injustice, oppression and outright genocide still go on today. I'm still torn, morally speaking, between the state's requirement to respect others' sovereignty, and yet a humane requirement to succour those in need of aid. P. J. O'Rourke can write amusingly about why war is good ("Give War A Chance"), but I'm not sure I agree with him. When war is waged on civilians, who merely want to get on with their lives and have done nothing to their neighbours except be born into a different ethnic group, that is unacceptable, and should not be tolerated.

I used to think of the poppy as being a symbol of our imperialist and warmongering past: now I'm not so sure. So I'm wearing mine in the hope of something better.


At Fri Nov 11, 02:54:00 pm, Blogger Bourgeois Wife said...

My mum refuses to buy poppies on the grounds that they legitimise war. I'm not so sure I buy that argument either.

At Mon Nov 14, 11:52:00 am, Blogger leflange said...

Everything seems worthy of a minute's silence these days, as you say - so much so that when someone who has truly made a difference dies, we now have to have 2 minutes. This worries me, not least because by the time Nelson Mandela, for example, dies, we may have to refrain from speaking for an entire month.

In Italy, I'm told, it's different - spefically in the environment of a football match. Where in England we (mostly) remain silent for a minute, in Italy they raucously applaud and cheer for the same period.

This is incidental.

Nice post, and thanks for visiting my blog.


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