Friday, November 11, 2016

Letting Go of the Past

Isn't it about time we just laid the past to rest and forgot about it?  Remembrance Day or Armistice Day or whatever else you want to call it, of course.  I actually said that out loud the other day, to mildly shocked reaction from those within earshot.  But the fact is that, with every year that goes by, I dread the approach of 11 November more and more.  I dislike the pressure put on us all by the media to wear a poppy, with the clear implication that if you don't you are some kind of traitor. Even more, I dislike the glorification of everything military during this time of year, the deification of war dead and the rampant nationalism.  I absolutely hate the way the very date of 11 November has become some kind of fetish, with the absolute insistence that the two minute silence must be observed at 11 o'clock, whether you want to observe it or not or whether it is even practical to observe it.   If we're forced to observe the silence on the 11 November, what's the point of Remembrance Sunday?  Surely the point of moving the act of remembrance to the first Sunday after 11 November was that it mde it easier for people to observe it, as it wasn't a working day.  Moreover, moving it from Armistice Day helped break the exclusive link with World War One and emphasise the fact that it was about remembering the fallen of all wars.

But, at the end of the day, isn't it time to let go of it all?  Surely it can't be healthy to keep fixating on wars long past?  I'm old enough that when I was at school there were enough veterans of World War One about that they used to get them to come in and talk to us about their experiences.  The fact was that most of them had only terrible memories of the war and were glad to put it behind them.  Most really didn't want to talk about it any detail.  Likewise, I grew up with a lot of relatives who had served in the Second World War - most of them didn't want to talk about it either.  They hated seeing it all raked up again in the form of TV series and movies.  They certainly didn't have much time for things like Remembrance Sunday.  But that's the thing - all those people who are so keen on perpetuating the empty rituals of commemoration have never actually served in a conflict, let alone one one as traumatic as either world war.  Which brings us to the thing I hate most about this time of year - the way it has, in recent years, been hijacked by right-wingers with nationalist political agendas.  They've completely devalued the event for me and, I suspect, a lot of other people.

Still, here in Crapchester all the local worthies were as 'respectful' as ever this Armistice Day, in order to generate the appropriate photo opportunities in the local press.  But the day's solemnity was rather spoiled by this evening's firework display which apparently marked the switching on of the town's Christmas lights.  Which confused me slightly a when i'd been at the far end of the main town centre shopping mall earlier, there were signs around the Christmas tree claiming that the switching on was next Friday. Maybe different bits of the shopping mall are holding rival ceremonies - perhaps it will culminate in some kind of conflict, with Christmas decorations being sabotaged in dead of night.  That would certainly be more exciting than any of the municipal decorations I've so far seen.  Perhaps one of them could claim that their decorations were actually a tribute to the fallen of Britain's wars?  That would get them the endorsement of the local Tory party, not to mention UKIP and the BNP, for sure.  And who wouldn't want that?



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