Over the years I’ve blogged a few times about war. I’ve even written a couple of war poems. You can find one here, a true story from my childhood about a neighbour who served in the first world war. Another poem, Hugh’s Farewell to Arms is about a friend who served in the second world war. The poem was published in Southlight 16 and you can find Hugh’s story on this post from 2010.
I said then what I felt about the resurgence of armistice day sentiment, and that repugnance has only grown stronger over the last four years, as we are becomingever more willing to send our young people to die for us, more ready to sign away our personal freedoms, more fearful of strangers and less open to considering other ways of responding to conflict.
My personal hero Chretien de Chergé was able to live in a society mauled by aggression and civil conflict without surrendering his principles or demonising those of his enemies, and to die for his beliefs without asking for anyone else to be punished for it. His death, along with those of his confreres in Algeria was the subject of a film called Of Gods and Men, which I reviewed here when it came out. After I posted this a young Algerian engineer got in touch, keen to continue a peaceful dialogue, and we are in touch to this day. And in his name and in the name of all the brave men who answered their country’s call but who rejected the bragadoccio and the mercilessness of war, I am celebrating today by wearing a white poppy, and joining Pax Christi – an organisation that works to promote peace and reconciliation. I’ve got to the pint where I can’t do anything else.