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The poppy - listening to your wishes


DavidCaldwell

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I served in the British Army and generally wear a poppy in the week before Remembrance Sunday, to remember the dead of past conflicts and their grieving families.

To me, this remembrance is not about militarism, but rather about the human suffering caused by war, as reflected by the nature of Remembrance monuments and ceremonies -

The Cenotaph - literally an "empty tomb" - is a funereal, not triumphant monument.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - an ordinary man, but the only grave in Westminster Abbey that is never walked over. During the burial in 1920, the front rows in the Abbey were allocated to women who had lost their husbands and all their sons. The thoughts of these women would have been of loss and grief, not militarism.

To my mind, it is very unfortunate that, for some people in Ireland, the poppy has aquired connotations of triumphant militarism. To me, it remains a symbol of the loss and grief of conflict - including those of all sides whose lives were lost in our conflict here. But in order to honour the original meaning of the poppy, I have decided to wear it in Northern Ireland only if doing so is acceptable to all significant strands of opinion.

So please have your say. If you ask me to do so, I will not wear a poppy in Northern Ireland (other than during the Church service on Remembrance Day itself).
 
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DavidCaldwell

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One suggestion - perhaps leave arguments to another thread. You do not need to justify wishes; you do not need to explain why the poppy might have unfortunate connotations to you (such an explanation might be controversial to other people who feel differently). Just ask me if you prefer me not to wear a poppy in Northern Ireland.
 

Protestant/Catholic=Irish

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Hi David. Firstly, I really do respect you for caring about both sides, it is a great reflection of your character. Too many people in Ireland love the controversy of the poppy.

Although as a republican I am biased, I would like to give you an honest answer (I'm not from the north myself, I may as well tell you, but I do know many nationalists, not necessarily republicans, there).

They say that the poppy has become seen so often that they ignore it on people they don't actually come into contact with. They don't like it, but if they are to rage about every single one they see their stress levels would rocket! However, they certainly would be wary of someone that they were to meet for the first time who is wearing it. There is definitely a bitterness towards it, there is no doubt about that.

Ultimately though, nationalists are opposed to the wearing of the poppy and see it as 'British pride' and support of an army that caused quite a lot of hurt. It is not viewed as a symbol of memorial but of offense, to be quite frank.

But that is just the views of those that I know.
 

Darren H

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The population of the p.ie Northern Ireland forum is the last place you should seek guidance for on an issue of conscience.

You should have the strength of your well articulated convictions.
 
C

Castle Ray

I think people should wear a poppy if it and its meaning is important to them, rather than the thoughts of others on an internet forum.

I don't have a poppy this year simply because I haven't got around to buying one yet. That said, I have a standing order from my bank account to the poppy appeal so I don't feel bad about it. When I get one I'll wear it as it means something to me and I think that others should do so if it means something to them. I don't think any more or less of those that don't; it's their choice.

Like any symbol or flag, if the purpose of displaying it is to antagonise or offend, I think it is unacceptable. However, if the symbol or flag is being displayed for a valid reason then it's up to whoever does so to make their own mind up and not be unduly influenced by others. Equally if criticism of those displaying a symbol or flag is for the purpose of antagonism and offense, then I think it is unacceptable.In the case of the views of people on an internet forum I think that is undue influence and that you should make up your own mind, David and follow your own conscience.
 

gako

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Michael Moore..."While your kids die in Iraq and Afghanistan, their kids are at Harvard and Yale". What a waste of young (mostly working class) life....
 

DavidCaldwell

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The population of the p.ie Northern Ireland forum is the last place you should seek guidance for on an issue of conscience.

You should have the strength of your well articulated convictions.
I have made up my mind not to wear the poppy in Northern Ireland if it causes significant offense. There is no point in wearing a symbol of the costs of war (and, by implication, the benefits of peace) if doing so stirs up old animosities.

My question is to gauge the degree of offense (with the hope that asking this might defuse some of the offense, which, I believe, is mostly caused by a mis-understanding or lack of information of the same nature as those that underlay many conflicts - see Hobbes' ideas on "diffidence" and the prisoners' dilemma in game theory).
 

Darren H

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I have made up my mind not to wear the poppy in Northern Ireland if it causes significant offense. There is no point in wearing a symbol of the costs of war (and, by implication, the benefits of peace) if doing so stirs up old animosities.

My question is to gauge the degree of offense (with the hope that asking this might defuse some of the offense, which, I believe, is mostly caused by a mis-understanding or lack of information of the same nature as those that underlay many conflicts - see Hobbes' ideas on "diffidence" and the prisoners' dilemma in game theory).
I'm looking forward to Mickeymac's and GlobalJustice's treatise on Hobbes and Game Theory. Why you would let people like that decide whether you wear a poppy or not is baffling.
 

Northtipp

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David , you know my political beliefs.

in short. wear your poppy
 

DavidCaldwell

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I'm looking forward to Mickeymac's and GlobalJustice's treatise on Hobbes and Game Theory. Why you would let people like that decide whether you wear a poppy or not is baffling.
So am I. Although I do not agree with their views, I respect them as people, for reasons that include the following
- I held (and sometimes still do) feelings about Republicanism that mirror their feelings about Unionism.
- None of us are as rational as we think - our emotions drive much of our opinions. Their experiences (either traumatic or simply lack of exposure to reasonable people of different views) may have been such as to lead them to be prone to some over-simplifications. "There, but for the grace of God..."

My decision will be based not on their reasons, but on their feelings
 

Mr. Garlic

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Why would you care about what some idiots (myself included, for the republican haters here) on an Internet forum think?

Ignore them; wear your poppy if you want to.

You can't live your life constantly deferring to the most bitter hardliners, trolls and ne'er-do-wells on the web - for one thing, because they're not really representative of real life. Just like the most bitter EDL/BNP/NF types and hardline Muslims aren't representative of English people. The rest of NI isn't like that, thank feck.

It's like going onto a forum mainly populated by hardline Muslims and asking them if they think it's OK for you to eat bacon at work where some of your colleagues are Muslims.
 
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physicist

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I think people should wear a poppy if it and its meaning is important to them, rather than the thoughts of others on an internet forum.

I don't have a poppy this year simply because I haven't got around to buying one yet. That said, I have a standing order from my bank account to the poppy appeal so I don't feel bad about it. When I get one I'll wear it as it means something to me and I think that others should do so if it means something to them. I don't think any more or less of those that don't; it's their choice.

Like any symbol or flag, if the purpose of displaying it is to antagonise or offend, I think it is unacceptable. However, if the symbol or flag is being displayed for a valid reason then it's up to whoever does so to make their own mind up and not be unduly influenced by others. Equally if criticism of those displaying a symbol or flag is for the purpose of antagonism and offense, then I think it is unacceptable.In the case of the views of people on an internet forum I think that is undue influence and that you should make up your own mind, David and follow your own conscience.
Totally agree, I wouldn't wear a poppy simply because there is no one close to my family that needs me to remember them, but I wouldn't deny that right to one who has, or is carrying the tradition on behalf of someone else. Alex Maskey made the point about Irish Nationalists and Republicans fighting alongside Ulster Volunteers in World War One, I hope their decedents can feel free to choose to remember their dead in the most meaningful way they can, and that people can respect mutual grief and contemplation on these matters, and that those opposing the wearing of the poppy do so in a way which matches the dignity of the principles that they believe in, with no bitterness or hatred to those who commemorate and vice versa.
 

Levellers

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Just to establish the common fallacy that the Poppy represents all war dead. It only represents British military - not Germans, not civilians.
 

DavidCaldwell

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Just to establish the common fallacy that the Poppy represents all war dead. It only represents British military - not Germans, not civilians.
I agree that the original intention was to commemorate the British military dead of the First World War. But since then, Remembrance Sunday has been widened to include British military dead of subsequent wars. I would suggest that it is in the process of being widened to include the all those who died in conflicts, to remind us of the huge cost of conflict and the huge value of peace. Certainly, that is what it means to me and what is taken to be its meaning in every Remembrance Sunday service I have ever been to.

Every human life lost should be remembered, so that we can avoid similar losses in the future.
 

vivabrigada

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Just to establish the common fallacy that the Poppy represents all war dead. It only represents British military - not Germans, not civilians.
I grew up in Ardoyne in the 70s and 80s. The British military didn't exactly cover themselves in glory then so I won't be rushing out to buy a poppy. The whole "Our Boys" thing is a bit hard to take at homecoming parades from politicians who lecture Nationalist and Republicans about terrorism so forgive me for not wanting to jump on that particular bandwagon.
However, I wouldn't object to anyone wanting to wear a poppy, it's not really any of my business.
 

between the bridges

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i wear my poppy to remember...
- relatives and countrymen that died in past conflicts.
- those murdered by the PIRA in Enniskillen 25 years ago.
- friends and relatives that currently serve.
 

purpledon

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So am I. Although I do not agree with their views, I respect them as people, for reasons that include the following
- I held (and sometimes still do) feelings about Republicanism that mirror their feelings about Unionism.
- None of us are as rational as we think - our emotions drive much of our opinions. Their experiences (either traumatic or simply lack of exposure to reasonable people of different views) may have been such as to lead them to be prone to some over-simplifications. "There, but for the grace of God..."

My decision will be based not on their reasons, but on their feelings
Well David for what's its worth, I lived in the UK for 10 years in my 20s, I don't remember the poppy being worn by all and sundry. Some people wore it, others didn't. Many attended commeration services, equally, many didn't. It's only really in the last decade or so that wearing the poppy seems to have become compulsory esp, in the UK. Maybe it coincides with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I don't really know. Its wearing in NI was always divisive. What really annoys me now though is that this poppy facism is spreading into the Rep where it never existed before. It's particularily offensive in that we don't really have a commeration for our own dead, all the rebellions etc, 1798, Easter, WOI and civil war. Even the 150th anniversary of the famine turned more into a festival than a commeration. This lack of commeration of our own past and our own dead has left a huge vacumn (that the Poppy facists seem determined to fill), could easily be filled by having our own commerative weekend, ie Easter for all our dead in all wars with a recognised symbol. Separate it from the Poppy and things will calm down.

BTW I use the term poppy facisism because it is put out by its supporters that it commerates all British and Irish dead in both world wars only, but we all know this to be a lie, it commemorates all British war dead in every war. The Irish are only commerated if the fought for Britain and not against Britain.

Having our own commeration weekend for all Irish dead would solve this problem though it might put the COI in a spot of bother.
 

physicist

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Just to establish the common fallacy that the Poppy represents all war dead. It only represents British military - not Germans, not civilians.
A British Empire military that had many casualties from nationalities from outside the Island of Britain including at least 49,400 Irish (including the Ulster Volunteers), 49,000 Canadians, 32,000 Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and Nepalese, 29,000 Australians, 12,000 New Zealanders, and 9,000 South Africans.

But I respect the rights for Germans and those in the 15 former Soviet Countries and China, and especially non-combatants who suffered the greatest losses to honor their dead in whatever feels fit.
 

DavidCaldwell

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I grew up in Ardoyne in the 70s and 80s. The British military didn't exactly cover themselves in glory then so I won't be rushing out to buy a poppy. The whole "Our Boys" thing is a bit hard to take at homecoming parades from politicians who lecture Nationalist and Republicans about terrorism so forgive me for not wanting to jump on that particular bandwagon.
However, I wouldn't object to anyone wanting to wear a poppy, it's not really any of my business.
My apologies for the times when the British Army's behaviour wasn't what it should have been. I wouldn't expect you to wish to join in with Remembrance Sunday, but rather just want to make it clear that, for me at least, it isn't about triumphalism.

It was not a triumph in 1920 to be able to fill the front rows of Westminster Abbey with women who had to grieve their husbands and all their sons.

We are not Spartans - we do not greet the news of the death of our sons with a smile. (For that matter, I suspect that even the Spartans were not Spartans - it was just a pose, a convention to mask the same grief as afflicts us all).
 

purpledon

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i wear my poppy to remember...
- relatives and countrymen that died in past conflicts.
- those murdered by the PIRA in Enniskillen 25 years ago.
- friends and relatives that currently serve.
What, no remberance for those innocents who died at the hands of loyalists and the British Army?

And people wonder why the Irish dislike the poppy celebrations/commemorations.
 

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