There is nothing simple. Love is wonderful. War is heroic. The deeper the love, the more terrible its end. The more terrible the war, the more joyful its end. The machinery of conflict has potency and evokes awe. The salt of tears shed in love spice the soul equally for king and slave.
Today is Remembrance Sunday in the UK. I feel humbled by the TV pictures of older men and women who endured war and combat. Now they stand in Whitehall in the slight mist of a late autumn day. Green leaves still decorate the plane trees in a defiant gaiety, like a soldier’s marching song. I reflect that all the crowds gathered there would only have occupied an hour or so of a machine gunner’s time in the trenches of World War One. At Passchendale each human life was exchanged for two inches (5cm) of advance.(140,000 soldiers died)
The magnificence and pomposity of State plays out a fabulous theatre which does give gravitas to the ceremony. Today and tomorrow the mines, bullets and bombs will harvest their crop of lives and limbs. The flags will drape the coffins. We all agree on the futility and cheer our brave warriors. One day, one day there will have been enough killing. It is easy to make hollow judgements and rhetorical appeals for peace. Peace appeals for itself. Where are the humble giants of humanity to silence the strutting dwarves of division? I hear those opposed to European unity and wonder if they skipped a few chapters in our history.
Lunch-time found me in a country pub for a traditional English roast. It was the occasion of a distant relative’s birthday. Ooh, how I would hate to be a caterer. The poor lady had to explain that the roast potatoes had all gone wrong – so it would be mash or boiled. There was a bit of huff and puff, a dash of English tut tut and several Gallic shrugs.Through the window a clear blue sky drew me a picture of two aeroplane vapour trails crossing in a perfect kiss. I took a photo to show you. I am alive, I can eat and kiss. I think I thought sincerely of those from whom War had stolen their hitch with the potatoes or had no eyes to see.
Emma thinx: The enemies are those who divide us, not those from whom they divide us.