Saturday, 12 November 2011


At this time of year I confess I find myself doing a fair bit of soul searching. As I blogged last year , I have mixed feelings about Remembrance Day. Being a Quaker, I am philosophically opposed to violence and war. At least that's what the Peace Testimony is about.

But I do wonder sometimes if I'm being hypocritical. While I wouldn't take up arms against another, I have to admit that I do benefit from the fact that others have done it for me. That others have been willing to give up their lives so that I can have mine. So where does that leave me and my beliefs?

I guess it leaves me confused. As the years have gone by, and as I've thought more about it, I understand that Remembrance Day is not about the glorification of war, military and fighting, that it's a public atonement and thanksgiving for the sacrifices that have been made in our name so that we can continue to have the beliefs and freedoms that we do.

I've also grown to understand that war itself, while never a good or desirable thing, is sometimes necessary. Protection of a people against an aggressor is worthy. Fighting to overturn or resist oppression is right. Violence for its own sake, for land grabs or to impose your way of life on others isn't. I've come to understand that it's not the fighting or the war that's wrong, it's the reason behind it that matters.

So, this weekend when I have the great privilege and honour of laying a wreath at our local cenotaph, my heart will be easier than it's been in previous years My mind will be with those around the world who gave, and sadly still give, their all. And with their families too.  We will remember them - all.

When you are standing at your hero’s grave,
Or near some homeless village where he died,
Remember, through your heart’s rekindling pride,
The German soldiers who were loyal and brave.

Men fought like brutes; and hideous things were done;
And you have nourished hatred, harsh and blind.
But in that Golgotha perhaps you’ll find
The mothers of the men who killed your son. 
                                                                                Siegfried Sasson 

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