It’s no big deal to drop a loonie in the Legion collection box and pin a poppy on your lapel as a good many people do around this time of the month, but I have to confess that over the years I’ve become increasingly resentful of participating in this annual symbolic ritual.
When I was a little kid, I was introduced to the solemn ritual of observing two minutes of silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of every year in commemoration of something of which I had absolutely no comprehension. Eventually I learned much about the origins of this mysteriously pious gesture of “remembrance” from various sources and was appalled by the gruesome reality, generally witless conduct of everyone involved and completely insane pointlessness of the “Great War” that gave rise to it.
And of course, it wasn’t the “war to end all wars” as some had wistfully dubbed it in the aftermath of its brutal carnage… not by a long shot. There would be an even more terrible and globally destructive second act to follow twenty years later. And then many other wars in the latter half of the last century, both large and small, brief and prolonged, hot and cold, often for reasons that defy rational understanding.
But I digress…
What irks me most about the poppy campaign (worthy though its charitable efforts may be – and I’ll still throw money in the box but won’t wear the pin) is the veneration of war itself as a noble and praiseworthy endeavour through patently false messaging that claims our country’s engagement in various wars over the years has somehow protected or otherwise secured our “freedom” and “liberties”… To me, this notion is not only facile nonsense but the rhetorical essence of the drive that cynically manipulates people into perpetuating a militaristic insanity that is utterly counterproductive to the common good.