Interesting to attend a school assembly this morning where many of the youngsters (Junior school) were wearing a red poppy, and indeed the school were selling them, but one child came in wearing a white poppy.
I`ve always admired those who wear the white poppy because of their stance against war, and as a Christian I recognise phrases such as “turn the other cheek” and I preach about how much the peace of Jesus is needed in a world which does not know peace. Having said all of that I always feel the need to buy my red poppy and to wear it with pride, but why ?
Maybe it’s because in my lifetime I have seen some of the horror of war. Often we only think of the 1st and 2nd world wars but of course the poppy raises money for those who have been injured in wars since, and I have known the Falklands war, both of the gulf wars, the war in Afghanistan. I have lived through the troubles in Ireland and seen our troops sent off to various parts of the world as peacekeepers. In all of this I have stood at cenotaphs in various church grounds as I will do again this coming Sunday, and prayed with thankfulness for those who gave their lives, pray with hope for a world of peace and prayed with expectation that those still serving in forces of whatever nationality will be kept safe.
My problem with those who choose (as is their right) to wear a white poppy is that so many cannot give me an answer to how peace may be obtained. “through dialogue” they say and that is an ideal we should all aspire to but sadly there have been times in history when war was inevitable, because of the evil in the hearts of humankind. The battle against Hitler in 1939 is a case in question, as here was a man for whom dialogue was meaningless and warfare was the only option.
Alexander Solzhintysen once said something like this “The dividing line between good and evil lies not through nations, or creeds, or religions but through the heart of every human being on this planet” In other words evil persists in the hearts of human beings and only one person can ever resolve that.
In short whilst I would never decry those who wear a white poppy, it says no more to me about peace than the red poppy which reminds me of the sin at the heart of the world (the black centre), the blood shed by Jesus (and our forces), and the green shoot offering hope for a renewed world.
Whichever poppy you choose to wear I urge you to pray for peace and pray that the way of the world will be that of the love and peace of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.