Wednesday, 2 November 2016
This morning I failed to sign a petition, sent by Email, calling on FIFA to permit the England and Scotland football teams to wear poppies on their shirts when they play each other on Friday 11th November. I also note with some irritation that all presenters on BBC television, interviewees and MPs when televised from parliament, are already sporting poppies and that in recent years we have moved to have not one Remembrance Day but two, one on the 11th November and another on the nearest Sunday.
It seems to me that our "remembrance" is taking a wrong turning and, rather than being an occasion for expressing pity and regret for the slaughter and pain caused by the failure of politics in the past, plus a reolve to avoid such tragedies in the future, we are veering towards using the anniversary to "falsely glorify war" ( a phrase used in the first comment on and article on a Labour Party site which supports the petition), and even as an excuse for jingoism.. The Royal British Legion refer to their pre-Remembrance Sunday display as a "Festival," a misnomer if ever there was one.
In my view Remembrance Day should be on the 11th itself, non-essential businesses and other activities, including sports, should cease, theatres and cinemas, other than those substituting programmes of genuine remembrance, should close, and "normal" television and radio programmes be abandoned in favour special ones devoted to the horror and pity of war.
Unfortunately this is unlikely. France does "close down " on the 11th November, but I was sad to note that young people, and indeed most people I asked, regarded the day as "just another holiday."
What is practically possible, I believe, is that we should have just one Remembrance Day, either the 11th or the nearest Sunday, cut out the marching , bugles, medals and military music designed to sanitise war, wear white poppies along with or instead of red ones, observe the silence at 11am, and properly fund through the state the treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers damaged physical or mentally in recent conflicts, and their families.
I wonder if the protesters who are so anxious that footballers should display their concern on their shirts would vote for this?
Post script (added 4th November) I see that the footballers are to wear their poppies anyway, in defiance of the FIFA rule. This is yet another example of our growing immaturity. FIFA is an international body and presumably we have representatives on it. Presumably we have put our case and been over-ruled. A mature response is to accept the ruling and carry on. Defiance is akin to an adolescent tantrum,