Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Day to Remember

Let us remember:

The British troops who died in war.  According to some things I've read that's all this day, Remembrance Sunday, is about.  Yes.  Remember them.  So many brave men and women standing for causes they believed in.  So many other brave men and women forced to stand for causes someone else believed in.

But let us remember not only them.  Not only our British troops.

Let us remember those of all nations who fought and died with the British in war.  Those of all continents and many countries.  The Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims and people of other faiths who fought with the British and are so often forgotten, sidelined in the commonly told histories.

But let us remember not only them.

Let us remember those of all nations who fought and died on any side in war.  Those we called enemies.  Those who called us enemies.  For the nominal enemies weren't any more bad or good than the troops who fought on "our" side.  And those who fought in wars our nation had no connection with.

But let us remember not only them.

Those of all nations - whether armed or civilians - who died in any war.  Those who chose to fight.  Those who were forced to fight.  Those who chose not to fight.  Those who served their societies and died without entering the fight.  Those who we pass off as "collateral damage".

But not only them.

Let us remember ALL who suffer and have suffered because of the hell that is war.  In so many wars that is almost the entire population.  And even for us - most of whom do not experience war on a daily or yearly basis - we will know people who have been affected and have suffered as a result of war.

Let us remember all those who refused to fight.  The conscientious objectors, the pacifists, the humanists and religious people who stood against the killing.  Let us remember their bravery and their own sacrifices..

Let us remember the innocents caught up in the hell.  Those who will die, be wounded, lose family members, be forced from their homes, go without food, because of the wars taking place right at this moment.  Those who have been exiled because of war.  Those who have to flee their countries only to be demonised by the British media if they have to flee to here.

In 1919 we said "Never again".  When will we mean it?

If we just remember the dead soldiers but don't live and work for the peace they sought then their deaths will ultimately be without meaning.

Yes, today is a day to remember, to mourn the wars of the past, to celebrate the good men and women who lived, suffered or died in those wars.  Most of us know stories - or know people - who have fought and sometimes in their service done much good.  There is a song by Robb Johnson that I cannot find online.  It begins as an anti-war song addressed to the artist's father.  How could daddy have held a gun and fired it at his fellow human being?  So the question is asked repeatedly and angrily:  "What did you do in the war, daddy?"  The answer came back eventually:  "I liberated Belsen.  Me and my mates, we liberated Belsen."  Let us remember the past and the people who lived through it.

Let us remember the stories.  The triumphs.  The despair.  I will think today of the German prisoner of war who drew a picture of my mother and her parents one Christmas.  I wonder what happened to him after he returned to Germany.  I wonder if he had children and grandchildren who would be amazed to know that he is remembered here through his pictures.

But this is also a day to look forward.  A day to live in hope.  A day to proclaim "Let there be peace.  Let us learn to love one another.  Let us learn to embrace the differences we allow to divide us."  For me this is never a day to give any glory to the concept of war or to a past and present in which nations have felt such a need to go to war so often.  This is a day when I look for a time that the red poppy - the blood, the long reality of warfare - is a memory and the white poppy - the call for peace, for the unity of humanity - is a present reality.

To close with famous words of John Lennon;

"You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one"


  1. I prefer to think about the one who took upon himself the sins of this world, even my sins and died for us all. I think mankind in general is incapable of living in peace with his fellow beings and we never learn by our mistakes. Every new conflict tells me that. It really isn't the masses who wage war though Clare, it is their leaders and politicians. We are just too stupid to stop them.

    Shirley Anne x

  2. I have a high view of humans as originally blessed. Blame writers like Matthew Fox for that! It's what happens after birth that's the problem, when we are told we are rotten and we shouldn't trust anyone else. I think most people are far better than they think they are - and that it's self-image that largely dictates their behaviour.

    Perhaps for a Christian that's kind of the difference between thinking of oneself as a redeemed sinner or as a royal saint who sometimes sins. The difference between one self image and another. But that's just an idea borrowed from pyschology and also from a Christian author I used to read who (in a very literalist manner) focussed on all the verses that described the nature of a Christian according to the New Testament. I haven't got the books now - but the long list is still sitting in one of my Bibles. He's probably just a bit too conservative for me these days. Even back in the day I knew he didn't have the full answer but I also knew his books helped a lot of people get on and follow God without being bogged down by a lot of self abusive errors. Here's the list of Bible verses if you want to see it:

    It didn't help me except in the short-term, because I still couldn't really believe simple things like "God loves me and I am not condemned". But that was due to gender issues that a book by Neil Anderson wouldn't have tackled except perhaps negatively. I'm not sure if he gets to gender issues but he would say I'd have to repent from and renounce the "demon of homosexuality" and the "bondages of Satan that have perverted my relationships". Which would be more than a bit of a turn off for me!

    Blimey, that was a bit of a side track onto books I used to love.

    Yes, humanity never seems to learn. History teaches nothing and we repeat our mistakes. Each generation passes on the same flaws to the next without meaning to. On and on. Passing on a lie. Or so it seems. In reality, though it's hard to believe, the world is getting more peaceful and people are learning to live together better. Or so the clever statisticians tell us.

    But yes, Jesus. What an example. Regardless of doctrines, what an example. Of how to live, to love, to serve. And of how if necessary to die for what is right. We may believe he took our sins and we can be washed clean through his sacrifice and rising to life. Or we may believe something else. Either way Jesus is a perfect exemplar.

    If humanity is to learn, we could learn through Him. Truly learn through him. A radical, radical (from radix: the root) learning from a radical man. True learning rather than the learning that has been seen so often in Christendom that bears no real relation to Jesus. A learning to give all for others. And that's a learning I personally need a lot more of. A lot more.

    Working on it - and so much has changed for me in terms of faith and relationships in the last couple of months. Hence the post the other day about baptismal vows. It's good to be back. And I'm amazed. I posted two long blog posts earlier this year about the pain of singing "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross" because I knew just how much it had cost me to see my sin there. Found myself singing that song at home yesterday and it no longer hurts. As I say, I don't know exactly what I believe. That's probably healthy. But I know who I believe. And that is a wonderful thing to know.

    Love & Light


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