27 October 2013

The white and the red

It's that time of year again, when my discussions with those (including myself) who ask why I wear a white poppy are enriched by comments left on my post a couple of years ago.
If anyone is interested, and wasn't here at the time, that post is, to some extent, followed up in another post a couple of days later.
This year, though, the decision to wear a white wrestles with another, more agonised decision: my preious to support foreign military action in Libya [audit trail here, here, and here]. Which brings me up against Ray Girvan's reservation (and, for that matter, my own) about the practicality of pacifism. But ideals are always impractical, and always run up against both reality on one side and other, not always compatible, ideals on the other. We have to weave the best path we can between Scylla and Charybdis.
For the moment, at least, my path continues (Libya notwithstanding) to approximate the white poppy route.
Syria is a much murkier case than Libya. In Libya, there was a clear case to argue; the potential to alleviate loss of innocent life, on balance, could be made (if not conclusively); in Syria, it is much harder to see how that algebra might play out. Undeniable mass slaughter and suffering now, in the case of inaction, is not balanced by any clearly perceivable reduction if any ralistic action is taken. Which, ironically, makes the white poppy less problematic, for the time being ... but doesn't make me feel any cleaner.


Geoff said...

I am wearing mine this year.
I might well fight to the death to save myself of love ones if the fool will not reason. BUT, I will not be the aggressor. It seems to me that whenever we support the "rebels" and they "win" the fight for justice, freedom and their religion they then fight amongst themselves for the spoils of war and so it goes on and on and on.............and of course we make such a huge profit.
It seems by many an account that our heroes are bullies for the most part ( apparently something like two thirds (?) of a certain regiment had "been done" for GBH prior to signing up. Perhaps we need an army to keep them off our streets?
Can anyone who reads this watch the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth with out weeping? I can't.

Geoff said...

For they are better, surely, than that terrible, almost orgiastic poem by the Toronto doctor John McCrae who died in 1915, and whose words inspired the armies of poppy-wearers. “In Flanders fields, the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row...” McCrae begins – but then his dead soldiers exhort the living to “Take up our quarrel with the foe…/ If ye break faith with us who die/ We shall not sleep, though poppies grow/ In Flanders Fields.” The poppies were there to remind us of our duty to kill more human beings.