Wednesday, November 08, 2006

white and/or red poppy

Ekklesia, the rather excellent thinktank/news service today has a report about the Canadian war veterans group Royal Canadian Legion and their use of the Red Poppy for Remembrance Sunday.

The RCL apparently say that an alternative white poppy sold in a shop in Canada is disturbing and illegal, and seem to suggest that they have the copyright on all colours of poppy.

The silly thing is that the white poppy has been around since the 1930s, originally by the Womens' Co-operative Guild and then by the pacifist group Peace Pledge Union. Of course, that is not to say that the RCL do not have the copyright on poppy images in Canada.

I admit to having mixed feelings. I am not, ultimately, an absolute pacifist. It is not possible for me to say what I would have done in the situation like World War Two - and I think there are honourable causes to fight, especially where it involves protecting the innocent.

My grandfather was a career soldier, and a fine gentleman - in all senses of the word. My wife's grandparents were drafted into the fire service - but nonetheless saw themselves as part of the war effort. I stood with my grandfather many times at memorial services as he mourned all that had been lost during his military service.

At the end of his life, my grandfather received more recognition and respect from the local branch of the British Legion than from anyone else. I do not see what they do as a glorification of war, but as a honourable social activity for those affected by military service.

On the other hand, my conscience says that I cannot - and will not - co-operate, support or fight in any war dictated nor demanded by this government nor any other that is likely to come along. I reserve my right to change my mind, but I do not give this government sovereignty over my ethics. I do not support my country right or wrong, and in that sense am a conscientious objector. As a student of Gandhi, I believe that nonviolence is rarely considered and underused. As a christian, I am a compatriot of another country, and refuse to consider another person to be an enemy because of their nationality.


Blogger Karin said...

Interesting to hear another point of view.


2:11 PM  

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