Friday, November 12, 2004

another twelve months with no poppy-related moral conundrum

I'm practically falling over with relief that another Remembrance Day is over. Its usefulness as a buffer between Hallowe'en and Christmas is totally overshadowed by my ambivalence about it. I think it's important to honour war veterans--for real. I think it would be extra great if we could honour them by taking care of them a little better, that that would mean more than those goddamn poppies, but if all we have to offer them for risking their lives for us is a stupid lapel flower, then maybe we should wear it and mean it. On the other hand, so many wars are fought for reasons that have nothing to do with the liberty we talk about on November eleventh. See Iraq, if anyone has any questions about what I mean. And part of me is horrified about the way we talk about war on this day, as if it imparts some sort of glory. We have not figured out how to respect the people who went where we asked them to go, did what we asked them to do, without talking about war as some sort of glory. War is the dirty work of nations. It is the shittiest job I can imagine. There's nothing glorious about sending a bunch of scared kids to go and kill other people for you, no matter what freedoms it protects or wins. We are willing to ask the people who have the least among us to go and give everything, including their lives, and they often do because it's the clearest way to more education, a steady paycheque. It gave me a sick sense of satisfaction to watch Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11 trying to convince U.S. government members to get their kids to enlist. If the people who make the decision to go to war were required to go themselves, or to send their children, it would be a much more careful world.

On the other hand (or is it the same hand? it's so hard to tell) I memorized "In Flanders Fields" as a kid, and it still makes me cry.

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