Back in the sixties, where my philosophy stems from, we were a generation who wanted peace. We stood against war. We took the attitude that violence creates violence and there were better ways of dealing with problems.
The Vietnam war was raging. American boys were being brought back maimed or in body bags. Vietnamese people were being bombed and napalmed. There were atrocities, agent orange, the My Lai massacre, rape and torture. War is horrific and disgusting.
We opposed war.
The red poppy was seen as a symbol of war, and the Remembrance Service was run by the State that caused and ran that war. It really did not represent the ordinary soldiers who had fought, died and been mentally or physically maimed by that war.
The people organising the Remembrance Service were the same people who, in the 1st World War, had ordered the shooting of young soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. There was an element of jingoism and unpleasant nationalistic patriotism in that Remembrance Service that felt hypocritical.
In America I met US veterans who were traumatised by what they had seen and done. They despised the way they had been treated. They felt used and discarded.
I felt that the Vietnam War, like most wars, was not a just war. It was about politics and power – not justice.
Since then we have had what I consider to be illegal war after illegal war – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. More body bags, torture, rape and atrocities – more horror. All in the name of profit and economic imperialism.
If only as much money and energy had been put into solving the underlying problems we wouldn’t have the festering Palestinian situation, the rise of militant Islam or mass migration. But no. They want war.
It is quite apparent that the soldiers who are sacrificed in these conflicts are being used. They come back physically maimed or suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and are largely discarded and forgotten. They rely on poppy sales and donations to gain any reasonable treatment. While the Remembrance Services perpetuate the same old hypocritical lie.
So my sympathies lie with the soldiers and not the politicians and generals who wrongly deploy them.
I would wear a poppy to support them, to acknowledge their bravery, and in recognition that we do need a military force to protect us; that there are forces out there who would threaten us.
I would wear a poppy to recognise the sacrifices made by our troops – the deaths, the injuries and psychological trauma.
I would wear a poppy to salute the brave men and women who protect us.
But I won’t wear a poppy for the warmongering politicians or generals.
I won’t wear a poppy for unjust wars.
So I choose to wear a white poppy.
The white poppy stands for peace. It supports our troops and the victims of war. It recognises their valour and their role in protecting us while not supporting the war machine that is causing such wanton destruction around the world.
I wear a white poppy.