Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The bus...

...from Westminster Cathedral trundled down Victoria Street and swept round past the Abbey, where chaps from the Royal British Legion were beginning to lay out the little white wooden markers for the annual Field of Remembrance.

I feel privileged to have grown up knowing the WWII generation, and indeed some of WWI.

It is increasingly difficult to convey the particular qualities of common sense and quiet moral courage that these people regarded as admirable and sought to reflect in their own lives as far as they could. The idea of self-promotion, as currently understood and celebrated, was seen as likely to result in misery, especially if it involved wallowing in victimhood, dishonouring marriage vows, being greedy or covetous,  using crude and vulgar speech, or expressing hatred and contempt for parents or country. To our generation, coming of age in the 1960s and early 70s, WWII language, accents, humour, and life-skills seemed anachronistic but in many ways admirable. Today, they are too often reviled and treated with contempt masquerading as moral  superiority. And important truths have been distorted in this process, so ideas of honour and freedom, neighbourliness and courtesy have been mulched and chewed up into nasty slogans and political jargon, or denounced as "hate crimes".

On November 11th, it is not just the war dead that we should remember but - if we can somehow discover something of it - the values and ideas of Britain two past generations really felt were worth defending.

No comments: