culture of peace
Né sous une bonne étoile.
I still remember my maternal grand mother who hammered in my heart how fortunate I was to be born in relative peace time. “Relative” in the sense no bombs fall on my head in spite of fears incessantly generated by some politicians backed (or pushed) by their generals. So far in my lifetime, I witnessed extraordinary events: the Fall of the Berlin Wall, German re-unification, collapse of communism pre-seeded by glasnost – in other words, historical steps towards peace between nations tarnished by blood over centuries. Peace secured all around fields our ancestors fought in the name of their rulers… We all have a poppy to wear. For centuries, families have lost loved ones in the name of political madness.
Since early childhood, I have learnt to remember those who fell in the fields of northern France and Flanders. On every 11 November, we were led to the monument aux morts by our teachers. Wherever I stand, I remember all men who were sacrificed in a name of a war, irrespective of nationality, since nationalism was invented to elevate states to extreme competition and human carnage . Nobody asks to die in such ways. In the name of politics, propaganda glorifies any conflict. Nobody plasters Dulce et Decorum Est on the door of their parliament, hospital or court of justice. And yet war poetry is studied at secondary level. Pupils learn and forget the messages of brave young men, like Wilfred Owen, who dared to denounce the true face of war and condone its illusions.
Earlier on at school today, I attended Armistice Day Ceremony within the walls of the old institute. Our Lord Lieutenant stood in full regalia, together with officials & other dignitaries to celebrate forty nine pupils who fell during WWI. Poignant moment, as wreathes were laid under the framed list of the boys, and selected pupils read out their names after the reading of In Flanders Fields . Two minutes ‘ silence were observed on the eleventh hour in the entire establishment, as the rest of the island and at national level. Our local piper & final words from the local history teacher closed the ceremony.
My heart warped through time as I remember the picture of my great grand father, a stretcher-bearer, gassed at Verdun and at Le Chemin des Dames and think of all men and women embroiled in all recent conflicts. As if human flesh was still regarded as a “commodity”…
By celebrating Armistice Day, we remember all those who have been sent to nothing but reckless butchery.