Monday, 10 November 2008

Lest We Forget


As I was driving home this evening, I listened to a debate on "Talk Sport".

They were talking about an incident at the weekend. Apparently at virtually all the football matches at the weekend a two minute silence was observed.

The exceptions, apparently, were Aldershot, who forgot all together (shocking for a town so central to the Armed Forces!), and Celtic.

According to the report Celtic had 2 minutes applause, for fear the silence would be disrespected. And a small group of fans walked out (or at least threatened to) in protest that the moment was being acknowledged at all.

The tenor of the discussion was that this minority were behaving outrageously and in a racist manner.

It made me thoughtful.

There is no doubt that the Irish (who of course were the original Celtic fans) have had raw deal from the English over the years. Indeed they have at times been oppressed and persecuted by us.

The question is how do you balance moving forward and healing old wounds, with ensuring things don't get forgotten?

It reminded me of the DVD I watched with my lover last night (free with the Sunday Telgraph). It contained graphic scenes from World War 2 and a vivid reminder of the atrocities that occurred during that period.

Is it right to continue to hold German people accountable? By the same token, is there a danger that by not revisiting awful memories we will forget, or worse still repeat the same mistakes again?

We will have a black man in the Whitehouse very soon. Does that mean the era when white people enslaved black people is now at an end and we should simply draw a line under it as an episode in history?

I don't claim to have the answers. Just some measure of the complexities involved.

I am a great believer, though, that we should always seek to make good come from terrible events. Find a way to learn from it for the betterment of mankind.

And never forget.

3 comments:

Mosher said...

The Irish were neutral during WWI (and I think WWI, but I should really look that up). They weren't part of the Falkland conflict either.

However, the Scots were involved in all three and I'd put money on the fact that none of the idiots making a fuss at the weekend were Irish. Any excuse just to make a scene, like the idiot Rangers supporters in Manchester last season.

As for Obama, check his heritage. He's as black as he is white, being of mixed parentage. At what point does a person become tagged as "black"? I'm not having a go at you - it's all the misinformation being thrown at us by the media.

Regardless, I'm glad he got in as he seems different from the psychotic warmongerers of recent years. Race, colour and religion don't come into it.

TeeTotallyNot said...

Being German and young enough for my parents to have been kids during WWII I refuse to take the blame for things that happened long before my father knew that one day there would be a glint in his eye (not to speak of things that happened in WWI). It's a stigma we've learned to live with and one that'll stick for at least another generation.
We must however pass on the knowledge of these dark chapters in our history to future generations and to remember and make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. And the signs for that are definitely there again.
And almost every nation has at least one of those skeletons in the closet so who should throw the first stone…

On Sunday I sat in a rather packed pub in Berlin and the minute's silence was observed by almost everyone, regardless of nationality. But for a few half-drunk idiots who chose to belt out dirty ditties and probably thought they were cool.
And they were English.

Mosher said...

I've been to Germany a few times now and I'm happy to count quite a few Germans as good friends. I've also found them more than happy to talk about the War, even joke about it in the same way we do - I think we do have similar senses of humour.

Every single German I know who's seen "that" scene from Fawlty Towers has laughed like a drain. And don't forget they also just bought the rights to BBC's 'Allo, 'Allo which stereotypes every war-era nationality it can.

I don't blame Germany or the Germans for WWII in the same way I don't blame the Americans for the Vietnam War (most Vietnamese are forgiving as well) or the fact that our troops are in Iraq. I blame the small minority of idiots who thought these plans would be good ideas, and I sympathise completely with the populations of these countries who had to get painted with the same brush.

And I'd apologise for the morons who spoiled the silence although that would be like linking myself to them.