Thursday, 24 April 2008

Failing to remember

April 25th is a day of great solemnity for Australians, known as ANZAC Day when we commemorate the awful fighting in the Dardanelles which it is often said, though I think some what inaccurately, is the time when Australia became a nation.
The whole idea that you can only become a 'nation' as a result of some awful war is in itself suspect. It is perhaps a justification of the foolishness of old men who seem to think that war solves things.
War, however, should be recognised; and the sacrifice of those who suffer honoured.
We will hear many times the phrase, 'Lest we forget' . Am I being too pedantic to plead that rather than failing to forget we should make sure that we remember.
It is. these days, often remarked that re-member is the way that we can think of that word. Make sure that we add members, of the quality of those we have lost.
And that we embrace the philosophic/theological idea of re-membering, in such a way that we are present at past events and that we bring their meaning into the present....we call this anamnesis.
THis is what I think we are quite good at enabling to happen on ANZAC day...making that event preset in such a way as to appropriate it for thew present.
May it not be morbid, may it not be jingoistic. May it be true!


Stephen James Bloor said...

I must confess I never enjoy ANZAC day. I find it is a jingoistic day. I find it is a worship of the cult of war in this country. I say this not because I don't want to remember those who have died in war. Actually, it is because I want to remember those who died in war that I find ANZAC day so difficult. When you have thousands of people screaming at the march waving flags it becomes to me a celebration of war not a day of remembrance. So even as a former service personnel I avoid ANZAC day. Australia should not glorify war, it is a tragic event.

stephen clark said...

I don't know that I 'enjoy' it, but I am moved by it.
I remember once (when I was young like you!) standing on the side of KW Street feeling a bit cynical and realising as it was going on that it was strangely touching. I am not trying to be patronising, it is a sense which has always stayed with me.
I found watching the actual Galipoli service deeply touching.

Anonymous said...

I conduct a Dawn Service in a local community and I find nothing jingoistic about the people who come.
They creep out in the dark, from the surrounding streets until there are a couple of hundred of them, and they seem to be there because they want to remember the dead and honour them and those who served.
It is a touching scene, and certainly not pro war.