CHANGING THE WAY WE REMEMBER WAR

I wonder how you think about Remembrance Day?  It is such an institution now and red poppies are everywhere, and their sales are the single biggest fundraiser for the Royal British Legion that does excellent work for servicemen.    It is all about mourning those who have lost their lives in war, which is right and proper, and giving thanks for our freedom that so many don’t enjoy in their own countries.  All this is good.

But sometimes I wonder.  Is that enough?  Are we really giving any thought to the prevention of war in the future, the futile waste of young lives?  Sometimes there are no alternatives to war – but surely all other options need to be tried even if they fail.  The think-tank Ecclesia has launched an appeal, asking

“Help us change the way we remember war

How we remember wars in the past is crucial because it influences the decisions we make about going to war or seeking better alternatives today.  Will you help us change the way war is remembered?

 You may share our concern about some of the ways the hundredth anniversary of the First World War is being marked.   For too long the national events marking remembrance have tended to glorify and celebrate war. At Ekklesia we are working to change this. We wish remembrance to be honest and purposeful…to mourn the dead – both civilians and military – on all sides of all campaigns, and to make a commitment to building peace…
 

… But we want to do more. Just as we need to transform conflicts beyond violence to bring about genuine engagement between those involved, so we must change the focus of remembrance. We need to move beyond the acknowledgement of suffering and heroism, towards the bravery and ambition needed for making peace in a world that still sees war as a solution.

 

In the year ahead we wish to further our work on remembrance in the following ways:

  • To encourage churches to make both red and white poppies available.
  • To refocus remembrance as an act of sorrow and repentance rather than glorifying the nature of war.
  • To create a culture of positive peacemaking that is integral to Christian remembrance.
  • To promote the message that remembering well means resolving differently, in the context of the First World War centenary
  • To publicise the work of Ekklesia’s associates and friends in this area.
  • To flag up the concept of ‘peace chaplaincy’ as a prelude to a fresh initiative in 2015″

I have edited out sections of this (where I’ve put a series of dots) but you can read the whole thing here if you wish:
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/annualappeal2014

What do you think?  

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20 thoughts on “CHANGING THE WAY WE REMEMBER WAR

  1. It’s important to remember, yes. And mourn. To forgive. To move on. People tend to romanticise war-time memories and that’s just wrong. I’m not even sure I’d agree that sometimes there’s no alternative. Isn’t there? How does every war end? Conflicted parties sit around a table and come up with an agreement. After millions have died and further millions have suffered. We learn so little from history…

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    1. It’s a truism that if we don’t learn from history then we are destined to repeat the same mistakes. What is so frustrating is that the vast majority of people would never want war. It is to do with greed for power and resources.

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  2. I have been reading about the psychology of war and one American scholar says that boredom is a large factor.The top people treat it as if they are playing with tin soldiers…and lives lost are discounted.Not to mention that,for example WW1 led to WW2 because of the way Germany was treated after WW1.The Wall Street Crash waas also a factor as Germanylost a lot of money when they were stll paying punitive amounts demanded at the Treaty of Versailles.
    That economic crash led to hysteria,mob violence and the coming to power of the Nazis.
    So Economics plays a large role too.That worries me given that we may be heading for another recession and also leaving the EU.

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    1. Yes, the causes of war can be many and complex, and I’m sure that economics, poverty and social injustice play a huge part. I don’t think the UK will head into another war in a hurry however – there is now poweful public opinion against it.

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  3. Our Great Creator made us with all our good and evil therein. He knew also that we must scatter the world with people but always leave room for the other beauties, the animals, as well as the flowers and the trees. These too enjoy their life. We have overdone it all. Too many people on this Earth and not enough room. Food is scarce in many places all over this planet, spite and anger takes the place of Love and respect. This stirs up those who are furious when they see how America lives, e.g., while they starve and worry. Then from the depth of our hearts comes anger and it spreads, and suddenly War starts again. JWXX

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  4. I don’t think the current way we mark remembrance in anyway glorifies war. What does get my goat sometimes is that it gets a little over hijacked on the more recent conflicts. The major difference between WW1/WW2 and other conflicts is those who fought, in the WW’s they were mainly volunteers, pals brigades, conscripts, where as in all other conflicts personnel who choose the armed forces as a career choice [or volunteered for the TA, Reserves etc] were the fighters.

    While members of the forces have my respect and admiration, I do thank them all [personally when ever I see someone who did or does serve], can you imagine the protests, outcry, refusals, moaning and media circus if people were sent letter and ‘made’ to go into a conflict.

    Sorry, I am soap boxing … just bugs me sometimes.

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  5. There was a female German artitist who drew a very famous charcoal drawing. It had “No more war!” written on it. Unfortunately, nobody listened to her and we had another WWII. The human sacrifice it too high and women are often opposing war because they lose their sons and their husbands in vain.

    Here is the link for the painter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A4the_Kollwitz
    and here for the picture: http://www.of.shuttle.de/of/kks/schulprg/Image3.jpg .

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  6. I think this is a great idea, war has such a dreadful cost. We need to work out ways to accept differences in a peaceful way. To do this we need to be sure what our values are. To me the full acceptance of women as equal citizens with a right to education and the freedom to choose the partner with whom one wishes to spend ones life are extremely important.
    Britain and Europe have in the past had an extremely arrogant attitude to many Arab countries usually with the price of oil very much influencing our thinking. I don’t have the answer but finding common ground would help.
    I think the white poppies are a good idea.

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    1. Yes, I think I’ll wear a white poppy next year but I will also wear a red one … blimey, I shall be walking along looking like a poppy field! 😉 We still have such an arrogant attitude to others and it worries me that wisdom in foreign relations seems to be lacking.

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  7. I think it’s been a long time coming….I would happily buy a white poppy, I agree that some wars are inevitable but so much can be done before it comes to that in many situations….I’m amazed that war is still so common, we don’t seem to be evolving as a species, yet our weapons are, a thought that terrifies me. Anything that makes people think a little harder is a good thing…xxx

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    1. Yes, you’re right … our governments go on producing and selling arms and enabling wars to go on and on … and so little is going into peacemaking. As Churchill said (before he made decisions that would cause more war!) ‘Jaw jaw is better than war war.’

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    1. I think there’s a danger in that … but I do think it’s good that serving soldiers are getting a lot more attention and support. Then there’s the other danger of going OTT with it all …

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  8. For those of us who protested repeatedly about Iraq we are furious that Bush and Blair are seemingly escaping the consequences of their actions.
    The Chalcott enquiry still hasn’t reported.

    The top army generals should have refused to send men into Iraq… the consequences were all forseeable and even simpletons like me could see them.

    The slogan ‘ shock and awe ‘ tells you everything you need to know about the value placed on lives of the ‘enemy’. Sheer wickedness. Now we are all paying the price.

    Blair has his religious foundation…………….. and has met the Pope…. it all gives religion a very bad name.

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    1. I would say it gives Blair a bad name … not religion.

      Do you agree, that we should change the nature of Remembrance Day, more towards a day when we commit ourselves to working for peace?

      This is not the same as being a conscientious objector. People like me, who have worked a great deal for reconciliation at different levels, realise that sometimes war is the lesser of two evils. But it is always an evil.

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