So I went my town’s main war memorial service today, held at the town’s large High Anglican Church, where the war memorial also is. The priest gave a sermon. Of course, being a responsible modern Christian, the talk was totally non-political. Totally. And by totally, I mean… not at all. Sorry, did I say it was non-political? Of course it wasn’t. He’s a modern Christian, so it was all about politics. We were told that we are facing a terrible threat today, the threat of the far right. We were told that we have a terrible man in the White House, an orange man who calls Mexicans vermin. Yes, he really used the words ‘orange man’.
This would have made me angry enough if it was a normal sermon, which are usually delivered to half-a-dozen centurions, but to do it for a Remembrance Day service, to a church packed to the rafters with servicemen and women, was just a disgrace. I could hardly walk out in protest, though, because that would have spoiled the service further.
He also said something else that was stupid and offensive, although most people didn’t really twig this. He kept saying that ‘It trivialises the deaths of those in conflict if we don’t learn from their deaths’. But suppose we don’t learn from their deaths. Does that really mean that we have made their deaths trivial? I don’t see why that follows. Suppose someone’s father was killed in a war. In most cases this will have been an enormous, life shattering event for them. Why is that changed by whether or not they ‘learned’ something from it? If that happened to me, then if I heard some windbag with a dog collar get up in his pulpit and tell me that I will have made my father’s death trivial unless I have learned something from it, I’d want to deck them.
And, of course, as you’ve probably guessed, just to pile on the insult, not just any learning from war deaths counts. Oh no. It has to be the right sort of learning, namely that wars are bad and the right thing is for us to embrace all of humanity, regardless and race and faith and creed, etc., and nationalism is bad. And the far right is bad. In other words, unless you hold the same political views as him, you’ve trivialised all the soldiers and civilians who have died in war. Yes, he actually said all this to serving soldiers and veterans. He should consider himself grateful that they had the self-discipline not to shoot him on the spot.
If anyone trivialised war deaths that day it was that man, who turned them into pawns in a political game. Not once did he say anything about thanking them for their service and their sacrifice.