I don’t want to see Nigel Farage wearing a poppy, or any of the other people who talk about the wars of the twenty-first century for political gain; the jingoism reignited by men who never had to face themselves and find out what it was to lose everything.
We are told to wear our poppies with pride, but sorrow would be more appropriate. Sorrow for the loss of life, for the devastation caused by ideologues to whom the concept of a shared humanity was an anathema.
Farage is an ideologue. He is not the only one. Here in the U.K. and across the world there are people calling themselves patriots who have confused patriotism with nationalism. Nationalism does not understand shared humanity.
I am reading, have twenty pages to go, A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker. It is about Samuel Beckett and predominantly about his life in France in the Second World War. I didn’t choose it for the subject matter, I chose it because I enjoyed Longbourn, another novel by the same author. I didn’t expect it to strike chords in the way it has, to bring home the horror, the fear, the waste, of war; to be a timely reminder of how Europe was rebuilt, how peace has been maintained throughout my life.
The EU is at the heart of that peace. Fracture it and we risk everything.
So tomorrow, whether like me you wear a poppy, or not, remember not just the loss of life, but what was built after 1945 to help us never experience the like again, and prepare to fight for it against Farage, Johnson, Rees-Mogg and all the other chancers.
Two friends from the US currently in the U.K., have heard me wax lyrical about Coventry, especially Coventry cathedral. They visited the city yesterday. I received this message:
“We were moved by so many complimentary and conflicting thoughts about the destructive, resilience, acceptance and optimism all existing in a single moment and space.”
Coventry is a place of terrible destruction, and of tremendous hope. The day after the bombing of the mediaeval cathedral it became a place for peace and reconciliation. A beacon of hope.
We can learn the lessons of history.