Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Changing ideals.

All the discussion, all the symbolism attending the hundred years remembrance of the start of the "great war" pin point very neatly how our ideas of right and wrong have changed during those years.

How we look at ideals, how we consider what is morally right or wrong has changed considerably as those people charged with molesting the young and defenceless have found to their cost many years after the event.

The recruitment of young men to go and fight for their country in 1914 was unashamedly vivid and aimed at a moral conscience that thought it cowardly not to go and fight in the trenches over strips of contested land.

The urging of young men to go and fight was shown on huge posters showing a pointing hand..."Your country needs you! "

For the young men who did not respond women were encouraged to give their men a white feather...to show their cowardice.

Young men who found themselves unable to fight because of moral or religious ideals were labelled "conchies" and sent out to carry the dead or wounded back to their trenches.

It was an age when there was only one way to conduct your life and any attempt to buck that trend was treated with disgust and worse!

Once recruited the men were treated as canon fodder, sent into battle and very many were killed. The losses recorded daily in the papers were enormous!

It was not glorious. The men who came home were changed, often for life. My grandad had been gassed. He spent the rest of his life coughing but thought himself lucky to have survived!

It's hard to imagine today the sort of hysteria that persuaded young men that to go and die for their country was an act of selfless courage.

Times have changed...attitudes are different now. The way we perceive morality is filtered through what we know or think we know of past generations beliefs.

As we remember those who gave their lives, as the stories of heroism are retold I try to think of those who went to war not really understanding what they were fighting for beyond a gut wrenching nationalistic pride because their country needed them.

They were all heroes, some just barely men....I pray for all those whose lives were ended or changed by war.....we shall remember them.

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