|"Poppy Selling Campaign by Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth"|
|"I don't wear poppies, and this image encapsulates why"|
Violence - whether mindless or not, whether a calculated military strategy or a calculated terrorist attack - always generates more violence. It is not the preserve of any religion, nation or race, for it lurks in every human heart and finds explosive expression wherever people are persuaded that it is more reasonable to hate than to love, more noble to kill than to die, more astute to exclude than to embrace, better to become a fighter than a peacemaker, better to bring your children up as future soldiers than as pacifists. René Girard died this week. He was perhaps the wisest and most learned voice of our current age with regard to violence and its causes.
I am sorry to see these young Muslim men selling poppies, though I understand why they do. But the photograph that the British Legion tweeted in 2013 - revived by a recent blogger - should make every poppy-wearing person ask themselves what they think it signifies today, for in no way does it symbolise either the futile horror of the trenches, nor the anguished justifiability of World War II. It does not say "never again" but "war without end". If people want to keep the integrity of the red poppy as a sign of the horror and cost of war, they should rescue it from the hands of the British Legion and give it to a charity that better understands "the truth untold, The pity of war, the pity war distilled" (Wilfred Owen, Strange Meeting). Indeed, if one reads the comments provoked by that tweet, it seems that many supporters of the British Legion feel the same way.