Sunday, 11 November 2018

Trampling on dignity


I am glad Remembrance Sunday is done and dusted for another year. So much of it is utterly self-serving. There are distinct camps from those who believe the larger you poppy the greater your respect and those who wish to set themselves apart with a white poppy, each failing to grasp that the whole point of the standard poppy is a unified symbol of remembrance to which you ascribe your own meaning. The moment you deviate from that you destroy the whole point of it.

Moreover I increasingly find myself revolted by the remembrance industry which has become an all year round affair whereby the emotional incontinence wrapped up in it all leads to a from of remembrance kitsch to the point of morbidity. To a point I have to bite my tongue because it's a matter of live and let live. I'm a minimalist and perhaps a little of my distaste is touch of snobbery, but each year the whole jamboree feels more like a self-indulgence.

Worse still it provides ample opportunity for cheap political point scoring capitalising on the solemnity of it. It ranges from the tawdry tabloid (just what was Jeremy Corbyn wearing?) through to the EU's most revolting appropriation of it to shore up its own fundamental lack of purpose. What's worse is that not only are we obliged to emote, one should also be seen to emote, which to me feels oddly un-British.

There is then the gathering of preening insincere world leaders united in their faux solemnity which is never an edifying spectacle when you look at their respective track records and the way in which they so wantonly dispose of the democracy we fight so hard for. And of course there are those remainers remarking on the absence of a British delegation to the service in France as though the UK has erased itself from the "world stage" by leaving the EU.

I happen to think this was an astute move (provided it wasn't an oversight). For two decades now we have seen gatherings of politicians on the "world stage" each there to parade their own virtues to each other, failing to realise how despised they are by their own electorates. If a politician alone is loathed there can be few things more loathsome than a gathering of them, cheapening what should be as dignified as possible. It is the perception that "world leaders" are more at home with each other than their own citizens that feeds the populist narrative.

It think there is something unhealthy about the way remembrance day has become a month long "festival of remembrance", robbed of its gravitas - and now every bit as commercialised as Christmas. Almost as though the nation is unable to move past is former glories.

Like much else in modernity it taken on a life of its own, detached from its meaning, hollowed out and exploited. Perhaps if it were the case that any of the lessons were learned it would be easier to swallow, but time and again we fall victim to the narcissistic delusions and self-importance of our politicians riding on the back of that righteousness they parade every November. It seems to me like the last remaining way to dignify Remembrance Day is to simply not participate and keep it a private affair. The remembrance industry has merged into the trivia of the entertainment industry. It's gone rotten.

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