After much hesitation, because I did not want to offend, I put off for at least a year writing a letter to the Otago Daily Times on an issue that had been offending me for some time. The letter was published (see below) and six people responded, which surprised me since the subject was not about traffic, dogs, or the Bible. All responses were positive. One of the people who thanked me for writing the letter added, “They always ask me to join them for an ANZAC day breakfast and I find it too hard to refuse. . .”
Here’s the question that came to mind after these responses: How many of the people who go to dawn parades year after year do so from conformity pressure rather than belief in the sentiments expressed year after year?
This may seem way off the subject but I now come to the comments expressed by the Australian rugby star, Israel Folau. This young man has been pilloried for saying homosexuals will go to hell. He’s equally blunt about his attitude to same sex marriage. If his beliefs are a worry to us we should be concerned about the thousands of people in our midst who share those beliefs but don’t speak out about them.
But expressions of outrage? Strange behaviour when you consider hundreds of thousands of Christians believe they are guided by a man who could feed multitudes with a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread, could walk on water, could rise from the dead, and he is still alive.
Naturally the people who have these strange beliefs have more sense than to talk about it in public these days but they teach it to their flock. All poor old Israel Folau is guilty of is answering questions honestly. Maybe we should invite him over to stand for a seat in parliament.
It’s good to see I’m not the only one who thinks we need to talk about ANZAC Day, (Letters 1st of May). Like Christmas, ANZAC day has become a season, an eagerly looked-forward to must-attend experience that supposedly honours the soldiers killed in the first world war. Interest in that war is becoming a national obsession.
The ODT regularly contributes its share of pages to the vast amount of published material churned out year after year. Grandchildren march with medals and the reflected glory those medals signify. They make speeches regurgitating the words of their elders using the phrase: “they did not die in vain.”
But we adults know better. We know that when we say, “We will remember them,” we know that our soldiers went half-way around the world to invade another country. We know that if we truly remembered them we would not have invaded Vietnam. And we know that no matter how many genuine people are sincere about ANZAC Day, the parade provides unhealthy emotional sensations tinged with the romance of martyrdom and glory of war.
The views of old soldiers (recorded on tape) who experienced the carnage of the first world war remind us that it was a disgraceful waste of life. The word most commonly used was ‘futile.’ If people insist on continuing to parade and remember, let’s at least change the name to…