Little Buckets: ANZAC Day


[The historian] will row out over that great ocean of material, and lower down into it, here and there, a little bucket, which will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen, from those far depths, to be examined with a careful curiosity.

Lytton Strachey

Evening Post, Volume XCIII, Issue 47, 23 February 1917, Page 7

The article begins: “The Reverend A. C. Lawry, president of the Methodist Conference, in his retiring address last night, made an important announcement.”  It is commonplace to suggest that Darwin’s ideas had a damaging effect on religious belief in Victorian society, but I suspect this is the view of intellectuals about other intellectuals.  Far more damaging to the belief in God in society as a whole must have been World War One where religious leaders could attack objectors as hypocrites, and state: “even Jesus Christ might be expected to lead a bayonet charge.”

Even Jesus who took the commandment given to Moses not to kill and said, not only do not kill but: “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…  first be reconciled to thy brother” (Matthew, 5:22-3).  Or was it the Jesus who said: “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew, 5:39).  Is it that Jesus who will be leading the bayonet charge?

And so it goes.

On 24 May, 1943 Owen O’Malley, the British ambassador to the Polish government in exile, wrote to Anthony Eden about the murder of 22,000 Poles by the Russians.

If, then, morals have become involved with international politics, if it be the case that a monstrous crime has been committed by a foreign government – albeit a friendly one – and that we, for however valid reasons, have been obliged to behave as if the deed was not theirs, may it not be that we now stand in danger of falling under St. Paul’s curse on those who can see cruelty “and burn not”?

The so-called “fog of war”.  Well, we might not know precisely what evil we will participate in, but we know we will participate in evil if we take an eye for an eye.

Drones over Afghanistan.  Years after the drones started someone thought to start to make up some rules about how drone terror should be applied (they’re not finished yet),

“Don’t you think there should have been clear rules and fair procedures in place before the Obama administration ordered the killing of hundreds of human beings?  The Washington Post reported on January 20 that even if the rules were adopted, the CIA would be exempted from following them in Pakistan.”

The New York Review

The news in this country reports the success of the mission in Bamiyan and the need to save translators who helped the New Zealand forces while they were there from almost certain death at the hands of the Taliban once the New Zealand forces leave.  We are told the success of the mission to Bamiyan and follow the story of Malala, who somehow survived execution at the hands of the Taliban and remain powerful and virulent in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Perhaps the poppy isn’t a bad symbol after all for Flanders as well as the war in Afghanistan.

I won’t be wearing one Reverend Lawry, nor will you see me at the dawn service.

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