Tag Archives: poppy

Remembrance Day

14947404_1399040276803357_200309664430578209_nI’m always conflicted on this day. I feel the sorrow of the families who lost fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, in the various wars. My dad never talked about the war, though his service eventually killed him, too – radiated while working on radar towers, he died of lymphoma. The blame was clear enough for him to receive a small pension for it. Many of my uncles on my mother’s side survived the initial war only to die of illnesses caused by their participation in it. Others suffered capture and lived with the trauma of that for the rest of their lives.

Of course, many didn’t come home, and that was terrible. Poor young lads. Poor smooth-faced babies, forced to kill or be killed, some not even knowing what it was really about. Ordered into hell by older men, far from the front.

But my conflict comes from the “Lest We Forget” statement. Because it seems hypocritical, wrong, as we bomb Syria into dust, as holocausts blow through Africa and 1224a9362bcc40fea71bb6290f12c89f_18South America and Afghanistan and the middle east and we are all okay with that. We continue to send young people to fight old people’s wars, we kill them, we neglect to look after their lives after they are injured, and that’s only the official combatants. Those with the real boots on the ground, the people who live in the countries we fight our proxy wars and wars over oil and more – those we don’t care about at all. We’re lucky if we even think about them, let alone remember them.

We support governments who fight the battles of the oligarchy, who kill to support business, who support systemic violence that rapes the developing world and damages its people.

And then we vote in governments who continually refuse to support the veterans in real time. Broken veterans have to scramble for resources; their families are collaterally damaged.

elephant-dog-kindnessWe talk about how the battle at Vimy is where we grew together as a country. No, I argue. When we voted in universal health care and the social safety net is when we became us, Canada. When we showed caring can win over selfishness, when good will won over violence and self-interest.

And yet, every November 11th we wear a poppy and make mealy mouthed statements about remembering our veterans. I cry every time I hear the last post. We stand for two minutes, feeling all sad and respectful, and then quickly switch on our phones and leap back into a life that guarantees more deaths.

We do forget. We do break faith with those who died. McRae wrote his poem at the beginning of the war, when all was filled with optimism, before the millions of deaths caused us to reconsider. For a moment. Until the next war.

We need to redefine what the torch John McRae describes could be – not the torch of war, but the torch of love. We need to stop the endless killing.

“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.” John McRae


Follow the Yellow Brick Road…

australia-homeOf cash and environmental degradation and planes trains and automobiles to the wish I could see it destination of Australia…world’s smallest continent but sixth largest country.

What can I say about Australia that hasn’t already been said by the excellent Bill Bryson in “In a Sunburned Country“? He explains there that everything in the natural world in Australia is trying to kill you. Spiders, sharks, snakes, sun – you can practically hear the country hiss at you!

Well, except for the Australians, who are generally non-poisonous and cheery, if a bit pushy. I was lucky enough to have parents in law, one from Australia (him) and one from New Zealand (her), and to see their interaction. It reminded me of those studies done in the US where they’d put a northerner and a southerner in the same room and let them talk and the person from the south would end up chasing the northerner around the room because South would try to close the room between them and North would try to widen it. Aussies push forward, New Zealanders quietly get even.

It was part of my marriage agreement that my hubby and I would go to Australia and New Zealand, but after 23 years of waiting for this to happen, I gave up and left. The hubby. Still haven’t got to Australia or NZ. Sigh.

There are about 22 million Aussies in the world but they are hard to count because they are always travelling everywhere. Any time anyone goes anywhere, they’ll run into travelling Aussies. Try Antarctica – they’ll be there. Norway? Been there. Go to Niue, and an Aussie will pop out of the surf. They’ve been everywhere or are en route to there. It’s a bit annoying since for us to get to Australia seems like such an expedition.


When they’re home, they run a good country, doing well financially, only occasionally cruel these days to their native population. They’ve dumped the Queen as head boss, which angers many. But they have compulsory voting, which I think is brilliant! Might get some of those lazy “think I’ll just stay home and complain” types we have here out and active.

In any case, I’d give good money (and would have to) to go there. According to the CIA Factbook, the only real problems are the usual overpopulation and climate change┬ádesertification, and a really healthy poppy population in Tasmania that contributes hugely to the opium industry.

And the place itself is glorious. Who doesn’t want to go there? See Kangaroos and Koala Bears and other weird creatures, see the world’s best surf, go climb the world-famous Uluru, a.k.a. Ayers Rock.

On second thought, don’t do that last one. The native population doesn’t appreciate people walking all over their sacred land, and, according to my friend Heather who just visited there, they feel terrible when people climb the rock because they are sad when they die. And this happens a lot.

So why not plan, instead, to look on the marvel from afar and honour the Aboriginal traditions. They’ll be happy, and you’ll survive to be bitten by that deadly snake just behind you.