The deception that lies behind remembrance day and the accompanying red poppies is the epitome of the false belief behind our Western world. It is the fact that the day and the poppy identifies that deception that makes them such important means to disclose this false belief and explains why I keep returning to it every time this annual occasion comes around. It is the redemptive potential of an ugly season that otherwise underlines the utterly unacceptable quantity of lives wasted through political pride. We need some way of dealing with the grief and pain that this has embedded into our social and family life for generations. But strengthening false belief does not help.
What makes it so particularly shocking is that it is one of the few apparent manifestations of Christian religion in public view, yet it conveys the utter opposite of the message of Jesus.
The Remembrance Day ceremonies honour human sacrifice as the means to preserve one’s self, people, way of life, religion, nation and political system, whereas Jesus laid down his life to save his enemies. War amounts to insisting on our own way at the cost of the lives of the next generation, both ours and our enemies, however willing they may be to pay the price. We then dress it up to look like they sacrificed themselves for our freedom. They did not, because insisting on the sovereignty of our own way of life over that of others does not and cannot bring peace, it can only lead to more violence. What is paid for with violence is not freedom, and certainly not peace, because it simply justifies the ongoing violent military and financial cost of maintaining our own political system over that preferred by others.
Basically, as I have argued elsewhere and in many previous posts on this blog, our Western world is a system developed out of the insistence of the rich and powerful on their own way and advantage by means of law, war and money.
This has been intensified over the years by the necessity of making room for more and more people who are motivated by the same selfish desire to emulate the example of the rich and powerful. It is a situation more or less acceptable for those content with a certain measure of personal freedom and money despite the disparities of income and lifestyle between those at the top and those at the bottom. However, the extent of these disparities between the poverty of the majority world and the West has now come home to roost and over the last five years has become increasingly obscene here in the UK and the USA for those with eyes to see http://www.lutontoday.co.uk/news/local/no-shoes-no-coat-and-no-breakfast-for-hundreds-of-luton-s-children-1-5653277 …. It is my prayer that the blood soaked myth of Remembrance Day will cry out against the economic oppression of the poor and disabled by the rich and powerful in today’s Britain and America. I long that the breadth of economic disparity will soon uncover the truth that what we call the free, democratic West is actually a selfish and inequitable system sustained by violence and bloody myths.
Kenarchy, on the other hand begins by facing the cost of refusing this way of life, what the Jesus’ story describes as taking up the cross and dying every day.
Absolutely not in the twisted sense of risking death to get your own way, but fully in the cause of reaching across to one’s fellow human being, whoever they may be, even when they prove to be one’s worst enemy. A stretch measured by what Miroslav Volf describes as “the will to embrace” even to the point of the worst that your political system or theirs can do to you. This creates the space for a whole new inclusive politics that the world has yet to see the fulness of, but of which the prophets have dreamed. Thank God that despite the horrors of the Western wars of empire we live in a generation that has seen some of the fruit of those who have decided to live this way, sons of peace like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UV1fs8lAbg, and many others whose sacrifices in the cause of peace we have serious reason to honour.