Sunday, November 9, 2008

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day so you will forgive me if I wax all lyrical about the futility and horror of war for a bit. First off, I should make the point that here in Ireland we don’t do remembrance day, (or if we do it's very badly advertised and I know nothing about it) This is because we don't really give wars much notice. We had the Troubles for Northern Ireland and we called the Second World War the Emergency. Next we will start referring to America’s War on Terror as a bit of a tiff and the rest of the world will give up on us entirely.

And its not just War, we like to undermine the importance of most things, if you are manic depressive then the Irish will say you ‘suffer with your nerves’, a friend of mine is currently nursing her father through the last stages of lung cancer and when I asked after him she told me he was ‘a bit under the weather’.

Isn’t it only fantastic? I like this, you could be run over, lose an eye and have a leg amputated and you would be under the weather, in fact you move from ‘grand’, to ‘under the weather’ to dead and anything in between is just making a fuss.

Anyway, I digress, the futility and horror of war. Yes, its futile and its horrible and there isn’t really a whole lot more to say about it. It can be a bit dangerous nowadays to say so about war, (almost as dangerous as rationally questioning religion). When I express my disbelief at mankind’s persistence in killing one another I am generally told that I should not express these opinions while ‘our young men are dying’. Now, don’t get me wrong, when some mothers son comes home a bit under the weather after being blown to smithereens then I can understand that she wouldn’t be overjoyed if I was standing in the corner of the hospital room tutting and shaking my head but we need an open dialogue.

When did we develop this fear of questioning things?

We should question everything, all the time. We have become so fat and sluggish and complacent about everything and, at the risk of sounding alarmist, it’s all going to cause a bit of bother later on.

Men will become soldiers

We will fill them up them up with rage
And send them out to fill our papers
With news of their victories and losses.

We will adore them, hate them
Twist them away from the boys they were
And fashion from shell that is left
A killer, with a better name.

They will bleed for us and we
Will bear their bodies home
To tearstained mothers and lovers
Wrapped in the flag that broke them.

Men will become soldiers
Until broken, crying in the night
They find they cannot bear to fight.

We will not dare to ask it of them
And then
Our soldiers can again be men.

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