War-weary

So the bomb that changed the world was dropped 65 years ago. I was but a babe in arms then but I’m sure our parents heard about it with both fear and relief. Relief that it might settle the war, but fear as to what power we were now able to unleash on each other, on this crowded and very fragile world.

Now the world is even more crowded and fragile, and we still find new ways of destroying our environment, our fellow-human beings, and our future.

Hiroshima wasn’t a turning point; sure it brought to a temporary ending a world war, but it didn’t take long before countless other more local wars took their place in the history of mankind.

So let’s not just remember those who died on that fateful day in a previously-unknown city, but those innocent bystanders of all nations who have lost that most precious gift…a right to life.

Remember it is governments who not only lead us to war, but send out young men and women to do the dirty work of war on their behalf, whilst they stay at home and justify the war.

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A small Borders town

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Over 40 years ago, (1967 to be precise) when Lady of the House and I were just engaged, I was living in Watford, and used to travel up on Friday overnight by coach (11 hours!) from London to Glasgow to visit her, and make sure the wedding was still on!

The coach had a few ‘comfort stops’, and the one north of the Scottish border was in a small neat market town. We knew when we had arrived there as we were rudely wakened from our slumber by the lights going on and the doors being opened. We were graciously allowed the facilities of the local hotel, before we headed on our last leg to the arms of our loved ones, and Lockerbie to its own devices.

Fast forward to  Christmas-tide 1988 and we were preparing for the festivities. Son was still at school and Daughter preparing for her passing-out parade at the Scottish Police College the next day.

We had promised hospitality to the young son of friends, who was driving up the A74 (which skirts a number of pleasant small market towns), and my folks who were over from Ireland and were also driving north.

They had all arrived safely and we were looking forward to having a Happy Christmas…..and then we turned on the television and heard what had happened to that little Borders town……………….

The Soldier

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I watched some of the TV programme last night which dealt with the life of a Guardsman officer on and off duty in Afghanistan, his time on leave, and then his time working at the Barracks.

You were able to see the terrible stresses he underwent in combat against the Taleban; as he saw some of his colleagues killed or injured severely; how he handled the local militia whom he was supposed to help train; the constant close presence of an unseen enemy; the possibility of a sudden painful and violent death; the constant looking-forward to leave back home; the heat; the indifferent food…..all of these became very evident, and most of us would have been unable to handle even a small proportion of the deprivations and fears.

Before he left for his leave, he attended the ‘repatriation’ of one of the young men killed in action. This was a very personal ‘Remembrance’ service. When he did return home, he had to face the boredom of barrack work. Then he was told he was to be ‘mentioned in despatches’ for his bravery, and a short time later he was courtmartialled for some fracas in which he had unfortunately been involved!

Ho can we expect the human animal to be able to handle such a vast range of emotions, fears, experiences etc within a short space of time, and not react somewhat differently to what the rest of us do as a matter of course.

I find war abhorrent, but the reality of our world that sometimes it is necessary, and is carried out generally within an  international framework of laws which can satisfy our natural distaste for killing, by professional and disciplined people who hope to minimise ‘collateral damage’.

We therefore surely should be able to forgive them when they transgress briefly from our norms.

Remember, remember…..

Recently, we have had the local noises of fireworks, as people, for some strange reason, let off excessive numbers of fireworks. Is it to ward-off evil spirits, or just some kind of ‘last-fling’ at the end of Spring?  Why should we want to remember the Fifth of November, anyway?

This morning, at the Cathedral, we remembered the fallen, in a very gentle way, with no blazing trumpets, but a simple selection of hymns, Peter Maxwell-Davies’ moving ‘Farewell to Stromness’ played on the piano, and Frikki Walker’s ‘Prayer for Peace’.

This afternoon, with the foul weather, we started to clear out some old photographs. No easy task! We thought we would get rid of a lot, but it feels rather uncomfortable to destroy images of ones we knew, and maybe even more so, those we didn’t know, as they were before our time. So we compromise by getting some destroyed, some scanned-into the computer, and others to be sent-off to relations who might not have copies, and would welcome them, and even more to be passed on to the Glasgow’s People Palace. This is because the Lady’s forebears were famous in the Glasgow East-End Ministry, and were great supporters of the working people of the area. 

And so we have had a period of recalling those who at various times have passed-on. And what memories will we leave behind, and how will people sum-up our attitude to life and others (as they will)? Happy, pleasant, annoying, snobby, short-tempered, truthful, reliable, patient?

So it behoves us to remember this whenever we interact with someone we love, or someone we have just met for the first time…because we are laying down how we will be remembered long after we are gone. How would you like to be remembered? …..maybe I will just go down as a long-winder old blogger!!

Remember, remember…..

Today (6th August) is the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, with the intention of ending their participation in the war. (Although Japan was already prepared to surrender)

The world would never be the same again….or so we thought! But still we have violence and national wars. Another broken promise by politicians, and total lack of understanding of the human condition.

And did we have any mention of it in the national news…no!

So please just give a few minutes’ thought to those who died, those who suffered and those who were bereaved.

The Irony and the Nonsense

As I mentioned earlier, last Friday was All Souls, when we remember those known to us, who have died.

Sunday 11th is, of course, Remembrance Sunday, when we bring to mind those not necessarily known to us, whose lives were taken by war. But what about those whose lives have been blighted by war, with permanent injuries, or perhaps having lost a loved one….maybe we should have some more consideration for them!

We often display our acknowledgement at this time by the wearing of a white or red poppy. Isn’t it somewhat ironic, therefore, that the Health and Safety Executive have presumably been involved in the design of a poppy which now only uses a plastic stem, in case we might draw a drop of blood from the previous little pin!

For goodness sake……when last did anyone get an injury from the Poppy pin? In any case, where is the harm in feeling a small amount of temporary pain, and losing one drop of blood, considering what those poor men and women went through to give us the chance to wear a poppy.

Political correctness gone bonkers!