The War of the Poppies?
The White Peace Poppy is in remembrance of all the victims of all the wars. Post WWI, the womenfolk – the mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends, etc – of the men who had died, or were injured or terminally scarred, mentally and physically, by what they had seen and experienced, created the idea of the White Peace Poppy. To remember what had happened – and with the intention that it would never happen again. HOT’s Zelly Restorick writes.
Over 100 years later and – after who knows how many human wars on the planet (or how many rage as I write and you read this), the same old ‘friend or foe’ story continues. Just different men and women and children, of all races and genders and ages, involved in war, directly or indirectly, playing the roles.
We’re all involved. It’s not a case of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
We all share this planet (and not just with other humans). Earth isn’t anyone’s ‘property’; it doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone of us.
Homo sapiens continuing violence towards members of their own species. Is it inevitable? Can we truly call ourselves a ‘civilised’ or ‘advanced’ race, whilst this is still the accepted norm?
The origins of the White Poppy
White Poppies for Peace first appeared in 1933 on Armistice Day, ‘presenting an alternative view of security and how to achieve it without violence’. Fears were rising that plans for another world war were developing, one that would be far worse than the previous one. It became a symbol of ‘our inability to settle conflicts without resorting to killing, but more importantly of hope and commitment to work for a world where conflicts would be resolved without violence and with justice’ (Peace Pledge Union). The white poppy was an expression of the concern especially felt by women – the mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, lovers and friends – of those killed and injured in World War I.
The War of the Poppies
The Red v the White? A few years ago, I bought 200 white Peace Poppies to give away to family, friends and random people who I would meet. It is at least a starting point of discussion. Most have been accepted. One man who refused has stayed in my memory: an ex soldier, who said that he would only wear the Red Poppy and seemed to think that the White one was a threat to – or in competition with – the Red. My reply was along the lines of ‘symbolically, they can co-exist alongside one another’. The Red and the White?
I guess the thing is that neither of us decided we wanted to kill or maim or threaten or bully the other one into submission; into believing what we ourselves believe. We were banging different rhythms on different drums, but we didn’t smash each other’s drums up over the other one’s head; we parted without violence or any desire to change the other person to the other’s way of thinking and living.
Maybe, in our ancestral pasts, there were individuals who lived together peacefully: exchanging, sharing, collaborating, evolving side by side.
Please let me know if you know of any – past or present. I’d really like to know about them.
A message from Hastings Against War about the Peace Poppies
In remembrance of all the victims of all wars, Hastings Against War will lay a wreath of white poppies at the war memorial in Alexandra Park, Hastings on Saturday 7 November at 1.30pm, followed by 15 minutes of quiet reflection.
White poppies are available directly from the Peace Pledge Union.
Or now locally for a donation to PPU from Book-Busters, 39 Queens Road, Hastings TN34 1RE or David Barry, a local PPU contact (tel 01424 720840,
mob 07958 613048).
Remember all the victims of wars. Wear a white poppy for a culture of peace.
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