Monday, November 15, 2010

an interesting development

i married a Mennonite. i'm very much inclined toward peace and justice issues although i'm not sure if i'd call myself non-resistant. at the very least i suppose i'd choose the label of pacifist for myself. i believe in peace and i'll eagerly point out that i stand against war in this troubled world. if i were asked to serve in the Armed Forces or if i had ever been conscripted (conscription is not in place in Canada and hasn't been since the Second World War i believe) then i would refuse to serve. that'd mean that i'd end up in jail or some lumber camp had i been born in a different era.

recently we went through Remembrance Day in Canada and nestled on either side of Nov 11th were two football games where it would be required to wear a poppy as a sign of remembrance for the fallen. i've always thought that Remembrance Day is a respectful day and i haven't had the internal ethical problem with an outward notification of my respect by wearing a poppy, even though i'm overtly opposed to the concept of war. i have taken to wearing a Mennonite button around Remembrance Day that i think is "better" than wearing a poppy. the button says, "To remember is to work for peace" and it falls into line with my thoughts around the concepts of war and respect for the fallen.

it was being strongly suggested that the entire crew attending these football games wear a poppy and i decided that i didn't want to risk that anyone would be offended by wearing my button on the field if they thought that i was being disrespectful to the memory of the fallen. so i wore a poppy since the purpose of the poppy is "Lest we forget" and not something like "isn't war glorious?" or some such twaddle. i believe in remembering and respect for fallen soldiers so that jump was not a difficult one to manage for me.

Mennonites do NOT wear poppies. i am not a Mennonite however. i do ref football with a Mennonite who took a little grief over his insistence that he would not wear a poppy. i was in there trying to help protect his right to remember in his own way but i can't believe how political the situation became.

a poppy is not a magic button. to choose not to wear one does not mean that you're disrespecting every veteran who has ever served in a war. to choose to wear one does not make you more of a patriot. we all have rights and we all remember in our own ways. i respect my friend's right not to wear a poppy because i too do not believe in war but i also chose to wear a poppy because the point of the poppy is Lest we forget ... above all else. i still will fight against any insistence that i must fight (yeah, i realize the paradox there) but i also won't disrespect anyone who thinks i "may" be insulting someone who died to help preserve the freedom i have to believe as i do.

it's an interesting development.

Lest we forget.


Al said...

My resistance to wearing a poppy includes some of the things you mention, but is also practical. Those bloomin' things always fall off! Why can't our intelligent armed forces at least invent a poppy that doesn't try to escape every time you stick it on?

Lisa said...

Thanks for writing this, Ian. I tried to articulate very similar thoughts last week and failed miserably. I really appreciate yours.