Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Red or White Poppies

The Royal Canadian Legion on PEI is thinking of starting legal actions against peace groups selling white poppies. To the Legion the poppies are a symbol of disrespect to veterans as well as a violation of copyright. While it must be agreed the red poppy is the symbol of the RCL, after all it is part of their crest, and it is part of their fund raising efforts for the needs of veterans. What would a Remembrance Day ceremony without the red poppy?

It is the symbol of those veterans who served in the wars. Just recently the Canadian Mint issued quarters that featured the poppy.

We understand the poppy symbolizes those who died fighting wars. To us in Canada, it starts with the poem "In Flanders Field" by Dr. John McCrea
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Between the crosses of those who were killed in whatever recent battle that had been fought, poppies were appearing.

On Remembrance Day, we acknowledge the supreme sacrifice paid by those young men who went to War.

Now along comes the controversy of the White Poppy. There are some who would call the symbol to be an affront to veterans and to those who died in war. Some would think its an attempt by peaceniks to take advantage of the fact that people are thinking about War and so they hitch their waggon on a popular symbol. However, a search reveals this symbol has an equally long history as well. It is tied with the Peace Pledge Union, which is the UK's oldest pacifist organization, going back to 1934. It's aim is quite simple to renounce war as a means of policy of any and all civilized nations. It believes peace is the answer. It has as its pledge this:
War is a crime against humanity. I renounce war, and am therefore determined not to support any kind of war. I am also determined to work for the removal of all causes of war.

This has, historically speaking, led to some problems, according to the Wikipedia page for the group, they backed Neville Chamberlain and his plan of appeasing Adolph Hitler. Which did nothing as history tells us, for peace and only gave Hitler the opportunity to prepare for his next plan which was to conquer Europe. So perhaps there has to be a place for war, especially when dealing with a great Evil.

Yet peace is the ideal. This planet is in desperate need of peace. If anything more effort should be used for peace then war. It would be good to renounce war, nothing good comes about from the activity. It does foster tyranny and human suffering, not just those of the combatants, but civilians. Despite the technology of 'smart bombs', civilians still die in war. Bombs ultimately can't distinguish between someone actively engaged in battle and someone just trying to make a living.

Do we need white poppies to remind us of this? I now think we do. Do we need red poppies to remind ourselves of the sacrifice many did make to stop tyranny and end human suffering, we must. Both, in the end are valid. Let us remember those who died in war, let us remember the veterans of all war, who were called upon by our Nation to perform a task and make a stand for democracy. At the same time, let us work for peace and justice in this world.

Micah 4 gives us this prophecy and hope:
Now ait shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And peoples shall flow to it.
2 Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He shall judge between many peoples,
And rebuke strong nations afar off;
They shall beat their swords into bplowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.

I close with Mahalia Jackson singing "Down by the Riverside".

Mahalia Jackson - Down By The Riverside
Uploaded by goldrausch. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

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