Poppies: Why not to wear them
If I am not horrified by war and sickened by anyone’s pointless death, then I wear my poppy with hypocrisy.
If I cannot distinguish between supporting war, and supporting those we send to fight in war, then I wear my poppy with ignorance.
If I’m not doing all I can to prevent global powers from treating nobodies as disposable humans then I wear my poppy with humility.
If I want to close my nation’s door to refugees fleeing war, then I wear my poppy with shame.
If I believe the line between good and evil runs between any form of ‘us’ and ‘them’, then I’m already on the wrong side of that line, and I don’t even deserve to wear my poppy.
If I dare to wear my poppy, it forces me to abandon my sentimentalism and enter the monstrous darkness of genuine grief; it undermines my virtue-signalling and commits me to work seriously for peace; it destroys my smug nationalism and compels me to learn more about our world; it puts me in the firing line of Lord Kitchener’s satanic pointing, and requires me to speak truth to power.
If your poppy weighs heavy on your chest,
if it makes you shudder with every step,
if it puts you in the shoes of today’s
victims of state violence,
if it shakes you to the core of your being
because of the magnitude
of the challenge
you have accepted by wearing it –
only then do you get to tell me
to wear my poppy.
And I will.
But I will wear mine
with sorrow, with fear
and with trembling.