Another year. Another unedifying row about poppy-wearing. And this time there’s the added titillation of a sporting connection.
My problem is not with what the poppy is supposed to represent, but with what it has come to represent. It has come to represent grief as a spectator sport, with everybody vying to put on the most ostentatious display of mourning.
It has come to represent the bloated commercialisation of charity and a massive circus which diverts attention from the state’s abdication of its responsibility to care for the victims of its wars.
It has come to represent politicians standing atop the heaped corpses of war dead and calling it the moral high ground.
Worst of all, it has come to represent a rationalisation, if not a glorification of war, and a stick with which to beat those who speak out against war only to be accused of disrespecting the fallen.
When we should be thinking of people, we are instead urged to obsess over a paltry marketing device. The poppy has come to be, less a reminder of the horrific reality of war, more the sanitised symbol behind which that reality is concealed.
The world doesn’t turn on whether or not a bunch of pampered footballers wear a poppy-adorned armband. They did agree to be bound by FIFA’s rules and rulings. But a little ‘civil disobedience’ is never a bad thing. Just don’t ask me to celebrate these people as some kind of heroes. Heroes stand apart from the herd. Demanding the ‘right’ to be part of that herd doesn’t cut it for me.
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