Friday, 11 November 2011

At the Eleventh Hour... for the sake of humanity

Written at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of this millennium.

I have only one thing to say about Remembrance Day: Let us simply remember it and all the lives that have been adversely affected by conflict over the years, but particularly lives lost.

That's it!

Well, it isn't completely it. I do have something else to say.

In fact, right now, I'm feeling very angry... angry at the arrogance, unreasonable partisanship and any kind of behaviour that demonstrates ignorance and intolerance - especially political or religious intolerance - or any form of drum-beating vested interest from anywhere in the world.

Leave it out, for God's sake, pack it in and leave it out!! Just start thinking about what the poppy really represents.

When I see a poppy
I see the symbol
of something that
it's easy to forget;
not a logo, a stripe
or a statement of rank.
It's neither corporate image
nor party colour,
nor crucifix.
It is not even...

...a badge of honour.

It's only a symbol,
designed to jolt
our memories.
It's not to be taken
as hostage
by those with 'affiliations'!
Nor to be hijacked
for personal ends.

It is for humanity
for non-affiliated
family and community;
national and international
universal praise and pride... humanity.

You've only to imagine
you're facing an adversary,
in whose hands
your life may be held;
imagine that all you think,
in any one moment
of extreme danger,
is your preparedness
to sacrifice your life
for your friends,
who stand beside you,
your comrades in arms;
for your family
and community
and to demonstrate...

...ultimate loyalty.

It is not for self-interest
nor to promote
your image;
it is for real heroes,
whose blood we see
as a bright red carpet
of papaveraceae.

...and each flower
is a life.

Remember this and only this, please; and perhaps, one day, there will be peace on earth.

(I make no apology that the above looks like a poem, but is not necessarily very good poetry. It is, nonetheless, a way to express how I feel, by breaking up the prose into meaningful lines - maybe that's what poetry can be...?)

© 2011 John Anstie


  1. Oh John...I think that this IS a feels like one to me. I so agree with the sentiments too...everything should be put aside in the face of their sacrifice. Just be quiet, be calm and try to remember and afford them the respect they so deserve. Whatever we feel about war and the complicated politics surrounding it, they died for the ideals and principles that they held dear and that's all that counts when remembering. Again, you have touched me deeply with your wonderful writing.

  2. Thank you Rachel and John, as ever amongst my faithful few fans ;-). I did feel genuinely angry about various offences against remembrance and poppies and common sense in the past few days - I think you'll know which, cos they've all been in the news.

    Appreciate your visit.

  3. Honestly, John, there is little I can say or add to your post.
    Your poem is beautiful.

    I'm not sure if you're familiar with Terry Kelly's song "A Pittance of Time," but it exemplifies, for me, how I feel about today.


  4. Fifa...pah,just another reeason we should stick to making BRITAIN great. sod the rest of them John.

    I had two grandad's serve, a father who toured and a uncle who lost his life. I was wearing my badge of honour with pride.

  5. Thank you Eden, for your kind comments. If only it could raise awareness in the right places.. huh, dream on, John!

  6. Shan, thank you for your visit and comment. Beside FIFA and its reprehensible president, there other events that spiked this response. But hey-ho, it's a joy to be a poet sometimes, and being able to express one's feelings and frustrations in verse...

    You lost you uncle you say. Which campaign was that?

  7. HI John just put your blog on my blogroll in phoenixrisesagain Just wanted to let you know. I am impressed by your entry on Friday and I was thinking about that whole war, hero and remembering thing. Well my granddad fought WW2 on the wrong side being born German. He survived but he lost a whole group of men he was responsible for and believe me he never recovered from it. Felt responsible for the rest of his life for their deaths. Living here since 4 years makes me realise how similar the experiences of the "common" people were in those times. The only difference is made by those who decide to go to war or see war as a acceptable means of solving conflicts and then the ones who win it. I have been working with several elderly German ladies who got raped either by Russian, American, British, French and their own soldiers they do not care about the hero thing. I feel so much for those who lost their lives in any conflict fighting for peace and freedom but I really feel very ambivalent about this day as I think war should be distinguished as it brings nothing good to anyone. But that's just me I guess :-(

  8. Thanks for your thoughtful input, phoenixrisesagain. I am honestly pleased to get a non-partisan view on this, which I tried to convey in the post, but didn't succeed so well, mainly, I think, because it was a spur of the moment thing, as was the poem. As for the darker side of human behaviour in wartime, to which you refer, war crimes are reprehensible, on whichever side, but one of the irreconcilable facets of war and its stressful effects is that it can dehumanise people and you're right, it is the weakest and most vulnerable who suffer most. All deaths in conflict would be avoidable, if it weren't for the desire of the rich and powerful amongst us for supremacy.

    Oh, how truly truly fragile is the human race!

  9. You are very welcome! Well I totally agree on that one: " if it weren't for the desire of the rich and powerful amongst us for supremacy" I start thinking that in the end everything is about the money. I think you have done really well with this post but the subject is very emotional and it touches people in many ways ~ that is why we answer in this way too.


Don't leave without letting me know what this article made you think, how it made you feel ... good or bad, I'll take either.