Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Anzac Day; Lest We Forgot and we believe in war

Has it all been said about Anzac Day? No, I've got some more! I heard a Gallipoli vet talking about his experiences.He talked about a field of daisies that constituted a 100 yard dash across heavily machine gun protected open  space. In his words the first lot of 30 to 40 men ran and they 'dropped'; followed by the next lot who also 'dropped'. The  language was such that I at first thought he meant they ducked for cover. What he was saying was they were killed. So he witnessed 90 to 100 men crossing this flowerbed to their deaths in probably around a minute. My friend Lucy from England said that there have been studies made of the type of language used in war-I'm betting in any situation where the reality was too much to bear. You get words like 'dropped' and 'served' and 'fallen' and 'in a bit of trouble'and so on. All to make it bearable which I sort of understand; however a part of me says perhaps naively that if we called it what it is then we would be truly conscious of the reality and revisit our firmly held views on war.
I had an argument with my partner Alice on Anzac Day about the way I criticise the commemorations.She said the people remaining need a way to remember them. I acknowledge that.It is very important.But if that's the case how come we are just remembering soldiers who died? Are civilian women and children the 'Glorious Dead'?I keep chuckling cynically at the 'Glorious Dead'-and getting iry over it. There's nothing glorious about it.They were bloody blown to bits!
And its too easy to say they "gave their lives". Is it martyrdom or a murder/suicide pact?I say its a convulsion and a belief in violence as a means of solving problems of resources, land. I will stop when we stop using war as a legitimate solution to problems.When parents, when schools, when society believes force is the answer to solving problems, how can you expect anything different on a 'macro' level, between nations?
People I know people I respect; who are well informed,church going Christians speak of war as if it is an inevitable conclusion. That's what makes me mad.
And what is behind youth's newfound interest in Anzac Day? I do know that schools force their students to represent the school at such events. I'm guessing its seen as a patriotic event for the community and to not be there is the thing you don't want to be noticed for. On the positive side, I think curiosity, perhaps compassion, the desire to stand for something so missing from our youth also make it attractive.
I don't believe that Anzac Day actively glorifies war. Some of my friends do.To me though, it is a great opportunity to look at these deeper questions. It is big on sacrifice (so is the Taleban) and repeats the Christian paradigm of "I died for you" that Christians are in to. Guilt? We owe them?   We all chant "Never Again!"; the plainly dumb mantra of an ill- informed populous. What with Pol Pot in Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and other genocides we clearly need to drop "never again" like a hot spud. Perhaps what we mean is "never again" for us.
I'm for revolution, I'm for evolution too. We need a revolution so that we fit our world and all its inhabitants. I'm talking beyond religion -the people based organisations- to actually mutual recognition of our place on the thin skin we call Earth. I'm talking learning a new language of mutuality-one that recognises we share hundreds of deep yearnings, a language which we share with every stone and every plant. I'd like to see it supplant our current language which is the language of domination developed by our minds, where we believe in war,and in my win equals your loss.

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