MD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8473 posts, RR: 13 Posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 2385 times:
Rising Up From Flanders Fields
Where you stand depends in part on where your soldiers lie.
By Father Raymond J. de Souza
Easter is the season of empty tombs and lilies, but the war-torn Lent of 2003 has kept my thoughts on full cemeteries and poppies.
Here in continental Europe, the preponderance of public opinion and public argument has been strongly against the morality of this war, with the Holy See taking a leading role.
For this Canadian in Europe, though, the shape of the debate has indicated that we, like our fellow North Americans in the United States, think rather differently about war than do most Europeans. Different moral lessons were learned on opposite sides of the Atlantic from the wars of the past century. It is not so much a question of this war but of war in general; not so much the morality of war but the moral of the war story.
North Americans learned from the First and Second World Wars that noble causes could be fought for nobly. It is historical commonplace in Canada to say it was on the battlefields of World War I that we grew to maturity as a sovereign nation, having paid the price in our soldiers' blood.
WHERE POPPIES GROW
Like most Canadian schoolboys, my first introduction to public thinking about war was during the annual commemorations of Remembrance Day, Nov. 11. An indispensable part of the day was the reading of the poem, "In Flanders Fields." In fact, I doubt there is another piece of literature that is so universally taught in Canada — every Canadian knows it.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The image of the passing torch is so deeply ingrained in the national psyche that those words from the final stanza were inscribed on the walls of the Montreal Canadiens' dressing room in the old Montreal Forum — the most important shrine of our national sport.
The poem was written by Major John McCrae during the second battle of Ypres in May 1915, where he fought as part of the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery. Canada suffered 6,000 casualties at Second Ypres, which was only a prelude to the horrors of World War I — a war the Canadian prime minister of the day, Robert Borden, privately called "the suicide of civilization."
Amid all that, McCrae was able to write of flowers and birds and crosses, and of bravery and love and fidelity. It not a poem about the horrors of war; it is a paean to the heroism of warriors.
That is not the common European experience. While Canadians visit Juno Beach at Normandy with pride and Americans visit Omaha and Utah Beach, there are no such places of unalloyed national pride associated with the Second World War for the French, the Germans, the Austrians, or the Italians.
George Weigel, the papal biographer, once asked his subject what he learned from the Second World War. Pope John Paul II answered instantly: "I learned the experience of my contemporaries: humiliation at the hands of evil."
The moral of the war story for so much of Europe is just that: humiliation and evil.
When a German thinks about World War II, he does not think about the "finest hour" but of national shame. A Frenchman does not think of triumph in a noble cause but of defeat and collaboration. Austrians bought their safety at the price of their honor; Italians needed, as it is wickedly observed, to "be liberated from their allies." The low countries were crushed; the Iberians and the Swiss declined to participate. Russia suffered terribly to win the war and then inflicted further suffering on her own people and throughout her empire during the peace.
The Holy See, too, felt the pain of humiliation, with the tiny Vatican City State surrounded. The Church felt compelled to moderate her voice to preserve the neutrality upon which her freedom depended. It was a defensible policy but there was no glory in it — there was only humiliation in the face of evil.
Indeed, with the exception of Poland — which fought bravely and lost — and Britain — which fought bravely and won — the moral of the war story for Europe was that, as John Paul is fond of saying, "nothing is solved by war." The subsequent Cold War only reinforced the view that war brings more evils in its wake and further underscored the impotence of free Europe to combat evil in its own neighborhood.
Americans used to talk about a "Vietnam Syndrome." Long before Vietnam, Europe was stricken with doubt that it was possible to fight well, to fight nobly and to win. Europeans do not speak, as Americans do, of the veterans of World War II as "The Greatest Generation."
All of this is important to understand the deep divisions that exist over war in Iraq.
It would be a mistake to dismiss Europe's dark memories as the irrelevant fears of "Old Europe." Europe is old enough to have learned some important lessons in thinking about war and peace, the first of which is that war is often just that: humiliating, shameful, degrading and evil.
But Europe also needs to recover the North American sense that evil can be fought, that it is shameful to appease aggressors and that wars can be won with pride and decency.
Both are necessary elements in the Christian moral tradition on war and peace.
In the light of the current war, the lessons of the past do not determine current political positions, but they do give a sense of how the debate is framed.
The Canadian government opted not to join its historical allies — Britain, United States and Australia — for the first time, but the leading opposition party is in favor of the war, and the premier of the largest province has endorsed it in defiance of the national government. Canada is perhaps the only antiwar country where leading voices are criticizing the government for not joining the Coalition. The arguments one hears emphasize duty, loyalty to allies and the demands of a just cause — not unlike the themes of In Flanders Fields.
Here in Italy the opposite is the case. The government has joined the Coalition, but public opinion is against it. The ordinary Italians I speak to seem completely convinced that only base motives exist for this war — money, power, oil. The torch of Flanders Fields does not figure in the public imagination — the hands of war grasp only after gain.
So the Iraq war has produced an odd situation. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair are men of deep Christian faith, explicitly motivated by the morality of their policy and committed to the role of religion in public life. Yet the Holy See has opposed them every step of the way.
That happens sometimes in the practical application of moral principles. Disagreements are to be expected in those situations where the starting points for moral reflection are so different. Where you stand depends in part on where your soldiers lie — in Flanders fields, in Normandy, or somewhere else.
Flanders fields are in Europe. But their legacy is elsewhere.
— Father Raymond J. de Souza writes from Rome. This originally appeared in The National Catholic Register and is reprinted with permission.
Andreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 33 Reply 1, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 2318 times:
Just 2 remarks:
President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair are men of deep Christian faith, explicitly motivated by the morality of their policy and committed to the role of religion in public life.
That's hogwash!! Tony Blair has never ever tried to make this a holy war or tried to bring God on his side to justify anything he decided! With GWB that's obviously different, but I don't want to get into a sermon about "born-again christians", as some of you will consider this to be anti-American, starting another useless thread..
Yet the Holy See has opposed them every step of the way.
That's one of the most stupid remarks I've ever read! Does he actually believe that GWB (I'll leave Blair out of this) does know better about the "will of God" or anything like that? That is exactly what he is saying...and that is outrageous!
btw: As opposed to GWB and Tony Blair, the Pope does know about war, and though I am deeply opposed to most of what he says, his ideas about the role of religion in public life are much more realistic and well-balanced than the childish and naive ideas of born-again christians, that much is certain.
MD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8473 posts, RR: 13 Reply 4, posted (10 years 7 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2156 times:
We're Nuts, I am a sophomore in aerospace engineering and I have to tell you that there is no way those wings are going to support that pig on anything other than a ballistic trajectory. Only God Himself could make that pig fly.
Cfalk From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (10 years 7 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2112 times:
Even though Blair is far less vocal about his beliefs than Bush, he nontheless was willing to bet everything according to his belief on what he believed was the right thing to do, regardless of the political consequences. For a politician (a career choice I usually rate alongside lawyers and cosmetic industry animal testers), that shows a lot of guts, and I have to admire that in the man. He explained in a recent interview how he told his family before the parliament voted on the question of force in Iraq that it was quite likely that he would lose his job. It's a question of risking defeat while trying to do the right thing, or of compromising on your principles by backing off in the face of opposition in order to save your job. 99.99% of politicians gladly sacrifice their principles if they feel like there is another, more popular option.
I never thought I would say that of a labour party PM, but I respect him for standing up for his beliefs in right and wrong.
Andreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 33 Reply 6, posted (10 years 7 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2100 times:
that is true! I was referring to the quote from the original text, that he was driven by religious belief, which is complete hogwash. I've been following English politics for a long time, working for an English company, and since then there never was a PM driven by religion (of course the usual floweries like "so help me God"), and Blair is the unlikeliest candidate for such a thing!
I've said that several times: Blair is the only one I really respect in the whole Iraq affair, the way he acted before, during and especially AFTER the war was highly professional and he did always tried to convince people.
Never did he try to bully others on his side! That's indeed very professional!
But maybe the reason for this is that he never included any form of religion, let alone born-again christianism! Made him much more credible!!
btw: Don't forget insurance agents and used car dealers if you talk about professional lowlives!!
Cfalk From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 7, posted (10 years 7 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2094 times:
I was referring to the quote from the original text, that he was driven by religious belief, which is complete hogwash.
I don't quite agree with you on this. How do you know? Has he ever declared himself to be an atheist or agnostic? Perhaps he feels very strongly about his religious values, and they may have had a very significant impact on his stand and behavior during the buildup to the Iraq crisis. I suspect they certainly did. The difference is that he doesn't discuss his religious beliefs to outsiders and to the press- which I think is correct of him. But just because he doesn't talk about it does not mean it is not important to him.
I am a fairly serious Christian, but I don't go around talking to people about it, nor do I like to see others go on and on about it, mentioning The Lord fifty times in a 2 minute conversation. My relationship with God is between Him and me. Your relationship with God (if you have one) is between Him and you.
This is something I have an issue with Bush about - It is fine for him to be a devout Christian, even born-again (I still have not figured out the "again" part, but anyway). But as the leader of a multi-religious country like the U.S., he needs to tone it down some - at least in the way he speaks.
But religion (if he keeps it to himself), is a fine thing to have in a politician. It is extra oversight, an extra level of checks and balances, if you will. If a president has an idea which can make him (or his friends) rich, for example, and he feels like he can escape the attention of the courts or of congress, at least a religious person will have another, even more powerful incentive to behave himself if he knows that an omniscient God will one day judge ALL his actions, whereas an atheist would be out of control.
Don't forget insurance agents and used car dealers if you talk about professional lowlives!!
I did not forget them. I just think they are far better than politicians
Andreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 33 Reply 8, posted (10 years 7 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2078 times:
Ok, maybe I should re-formulate: He doesn't act as if he were driven by religion, which is pretty important being PM of a multi-religion society, but of course, his personal belief is indeed his personal thing and nobody else's. He didn't bring in God when trying to make people see his point of view, and, best of all (though not exactly related to this thread here), he didn't change the reasons every other day.
The "again" means you can keep on behaving irresponsible, make all personal mistakes AGAIN and AGAIN, and born-again christianism absolves you AGAIN and AGAIN...I guess that's the big point, and that is what makes me nervous because then, there is NO "extra oversight, an extra level of checks and balances" (quote Charles) to support your decision-making.
insurance agent better than politicians...hmmmm....that's a pretty unsettling statement, that!
STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16545 posts, RR: 52 Reply 9, posted (10 years 7 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2048 times:
"Could This Be *the* Reason Why Europe Is Antiwar?"
Who says Europe is anti-war, I didn't see anyone crying when Chirac and Shroeder manipulated the US to agree to lead a NATO lead invasion of Kosovo and bombing of Belgrade. Where were the human shields when Serbians were being killed, no one was bothered by the regime change campaign to remove Milosivic.
Milosivic is an amatuer tyrant compared to Saddam who gased his own people, gased the Iranians, fired ballastic missiles at Saudia Arabia, Israel.
Just goes to show the hypocrisy which dominates European politics, it's ok to pressure the US (who was against the campaign) to join (lead) the campaign to remove Milosivic for the purpose of preventing futher refugees from fleeing to the streets of Germany and France.
Nobody was cheering in Serbia when Milosivic was taken out, the scenes at the end of the Iraqi war and the war against Serbia were quite different.
Banco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54 Reply 11, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 1988 times:
Andreas, I suspect you may be putting the cart before the horse on this. To take an example, Blair wanted to finish with "God Bless You" when he made his speech to the nation a the start of hostilities. He was told in no uncertain terms by his advisors that this would be a spectacularly bad idea. For better or worse, the British are about the most ungodly people in the world, and any PM that used a term like that would at best make the population extremely uneasy, and at worst invite ridicule. The population quite simply loathe the whole idea of bringing God into any issue like this, and much of the derision that the British tend to have towards American politics is driven by the "God Bless America" style of presentation.
Blair is undoubtedly strongly driven by his faith, but bringing that into the equation in terms of the political message would go down more badly than you can believe. Hehas it as much as Bush, but necessity ensures he wouldn't say so explicitly.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
Andreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 33 Reply 12, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 1972 times:
Yes well, that's why he comes across much more credible than Bush, btw the most ungodly folks, that's us Germans, well ok, let's call it a draw in this case.
I'm not sure at all if Blair is driven by religion...he never made that impression on me, though as said above, what he believes is his personal thing and should not be shouted around all over the market place. (ok, that's where I may be wrong, or you...that remains undecided).
Quote:The population quite simply loathe the whole idea of bringing God into any issue like this.
Yes exactly, that's why the quote from the threadstarting posting is hogwash imho (please read my first posting above).
Quote: He has it as much as Bush,
No definitely not!! Evern if he is deep into religion, he's certainly not one of those born-agains, and these guys really make me nervous (see above).
Cfalk From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 15, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 1955 times:
Andreas, don't paint the Americans and Europeans with the same brush. Religion in Europe has fallen largely into disdain here in Europe. Few Europeans (West Europeans in particular) bother to go to church anymore. This is not as much the case in the U.S., where there is still a strong religious streak which is not just restricted in the "Bible Belt". If you look up the statistics, I'm sure you will note that a much higher percentage of Americans regularly attend religious services than do Europeans.
So when a president - even one with questionable morality such as Clinton, says "God Bless America" at the end of every speech, that might seem at best quaint or at worst disturbing to European ears, such a phrase is not nearly as shocking in the U.S.. But you must remember that most of his speeches are meant for American audiences.
Banco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54 Reply 16, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 1949 times:
Perfectly true, Charles, and I'm sure that Andreas is bright enough to be aware of that. Nevertheless, it jars on European and even British (who after all were in favour of the war) ears, hence why Blair couldn't get away with the "God Bless you" comment for a British audience..
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
Cfalk From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 18, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 1948 times:
Andreas, you were talking about the reactions of "the population", and of how Blair comes accross more credible than Bush because of the lack of religious references, and I just wanted to specify that you were talking about the European population, not the American one.
Recognize also where this European attitude towards religion and patriotism (aka nationalism) came from. Europe has fought the bloodiest wars in history because of religious differences and because of nationalism. This is why these two words are almost considered bad language here.
The U.S. has not had that experience (thankfully). Patriotism and religion is still a good thing in the U.S., as it could also be in Europe. We Europeans simply got so badly burned in the past on those issues that we end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
The differences are historical and cultural, not political.
Andreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 33 Reply 19, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 1936 times:
I just wanted to specify that you were talking about the European population, not the American one.
That is correct, thanx!
patriotism (aka nationalism) ... Europe has fought the bloodiest wars in history because of religious differences and because of nationalism. This is why these two words are almost considered bad language here.
Yes at least in Germany that is definitely the case. Calling oneself a patriot (not that I'd consider myself to be one!!) is indeed a bad thing to say in Germany and brings up unfriendly comments if done so by a politician or another person of public interest. I agree, it is probably too harsh a reaction, even in Germany after nearly 60 years of peace and democracy, yet I think, it is better that way: Don't let any patriotic thinking grow at all...it implies that any given country is somehow different than another, and I like it that way, it's competition in the best sense.
Unfortunately this difference is often turned sour against another country by saying "we're different AND better", and then usually the shit hits the fan.
But that is of course only my personal opinion!
But I have to say, I like it as it is, and it is ceratinly the reason why Blair came across much more credible in Germany than GWB (beside the fact that Tony is probably the most popular foreign politician in Germany, regardless of the Iraq affair), though both couldn't change the opinion (right or wrong) of the German people!
Banco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54 Reply 20, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 1921 times:
It's an interesting point Charles, but I'm not sure you can ascribe British sentiment to the same theories as continental Europe. Undoubtedly due to the fact that historically, the British tended to be the winners in the great European carve-ups (even if some victories were rather Pyrrhic, i.e. WWII) and this is probably reflected in the generally hostile British reaction to the pan-national concept of the EU.
Indeed, British intervention in European politics was always along the lines of maintaining a balance of power on the continent, the thinking being, put simply, that so long as no one nation became too powerful, Europe could fight each other as long as they didn't fight us. Indeed, when there is a prospect of war, the British reaction varies from initial acquiescence turning to support, to downright enthusiasm for it.
This is actually somewhat peculiar, and probably different from just about every other nation, including the US. I suspect that British history, where no invader has succeeded since 1066, and where there has been an unbroken line of military success across the centuries (punctuated by occasional disasters, yes, but none ultimately threatening Britain itself) has created a situation whereby the British people collectively cannot conceive of the idea of actually losing, and thereby to some degree lack the safety valve that other countries have. How else can the extraordinary self-belief be explained? For example, no country in its right mind would have entertained trying to re-take the Falklands, let alone have utter confidence in success.
Equally, although religious strife occurred throughout the centuries in Britain, it was a rather parochial affair, certainly after the initial split from Rome. So, although in this area the outcome was similar (low religious interest), the causes behind it were rather different.
Disagreement is welcomed with this by the way!!
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
Racko From Germany, joined Nov 2001, 4849 posts, RR: 20 Reply 21, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 1916 times:
I don't like any politican relying on religion for decision, not even talking about so serious decision like war or peace. Religous conflicts have driven (and still drive) mankind in so deep trouble, why not learn out of history and leave religion out of state policy? I think religion should be every persons personal deal, and the state should stay out of it.
Andreas, I don't think that Germany is so ungodly. That might be true for the east were religion was very low-regarded by the regime for 40 years, but at least were I live the majority of people still believe in god. And I don't think you can measure how "godly" or "ungodly" people are by checking how many of them go to the church on sunday. After all, you can still believe in god without being member of a church, maybe because you don't like how big churches interpret the bible. As I said above, belief is everyone's personal deal in my opinion.
I agree that too much patriotism can end up in nationalism("Hurra-Patriotismus"), but I think we here in Germany take it too far, though in the less-dangerous direction. If you look at our neighbours, take the Netherlands as an example, they can be proud to be a Dutchman, fly the flag, hail the Queen, sing the anthem without coming anywhere close to nationalism.
Andreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 33 Reply 22, posted (10 years 7 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 1898 times:
Racko, that word ungodly was not meant in a negative way, more like a description that religion does not come up in daily live too often, at least not in urban regions, and in rural regions, it's been going down. Just take a look at our politicians...it is very rare that one of them uses God to justify a decision, not even CSU members!
I agree that the church-going rate is no indication. In earlier times this was sort of a meeting point instead of just an opportunity to worship, but that concept has lost its relevance over the years. Belief is indeed something private, and, to come back to the original topic, Tony Blair quite obviously sees this exactly the same way.
Quote: but I think we here in Germany take it too far, though in the less-dangerous direction.
*ggg* that is probably a much shorter way of expressing what I tried to say above, using much more words..and it does come from German history! I guess it sends a good message to other countries who suffered from German nationalism in earlier times.
Anyway, and this is my personal opinion, or taste, any signs of nationalism are things I do not like...worshipping a piece of cloth goes way beyond my personal beliefs, but whoever wants to do this...ok. When visiting other countries I take great care not to hurt any feelings of the "aboriginees", but out of respect tp other people, not out of respect for the abovementioned piece of cloth!