Friday, 11 November 2011


There was an interesting discussion on BBC's "Any Questions?" about whether or not a poppy burning organisation should be banned as an organisation. Emotionally, of course I want them to be banned. I find this kind of behaviour abhorrent in the extreme. I find it more difficult to know what wisdom says to me about this. Do we do better to go along with the very principles which allow people to rail against the freedoms which we have come through centuries of upheaval, wars, political effort and all the rest to win, or do we say, this is one step too far? The activity of poppy burning is about our presence in Afghanistan and is not so directly aimed at our seeking to honour the fallen in wars of this century and last, but nevertheless, it does insult this tradition. So when people dishonour our fallen, insult our traditions, disrespect our ways, what is the correct response? I know that biblically speaking, it is only ever right for those of us who accept Biblical authority to act honourably, respectfully and humbly. The editor of the Jewish Chronicle was a member of the panel, and he made an interesting point: if he as a citizen were to burn a poppy in public, he would not be banned, what the government has done has outlawed the organisation by making its activities and membership illegal. Whether that is a right thing to have done would I suppose have to do with the wider aims and activities of the group in the opinion of the government. Coming back to the question of our own response to such behaviour, I believe we are bidden to tell someone who insults or offends us that they have done so, expressing the fact that we may be hurt or angry, and to begin a conversation with them, which hopefully might lead in some cases at least, to positive places.

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