Monday, April 20, 2015

ANZAC centenary? I think I'm over it...

In a busy but very satisfying time of reinventing myself in digital publishing and temporarily masquerading as a Barbershop Chorus Director I am trying to take notice of all the stuff on the centenary of the Gallipoli landing and the role of NZ and Australia in it.
The celebratory mood seems to be full to overflowing of interpretation that is being superimposed on one of the most monstrous military failures in history Personally, I have heard enough about the horrendous blunder that Churchill bestowed on the British community of nations - he did better later on.
And I am also troubled that we seem to be attributing inappropriate motives to the people who went to serve. We are now holding them up as if they actually went off to give up their lives so New Zealand could be free. I think we use too much language of "sacrifice" and "honour" for people who got killed screaming and cursing on the beach or in the trenches.
Of course this is an appropriate time to remind ourselves of the pain, cost and outright stupidity of war. Of course it is appropriate that our national psyche has some concrete memorials of great tragedies in its life. And of course there have always been conflicts that have been maintained by individuals who had no idea about the original cause.
But, just after Easter, I am struck by the way in which the reinterpretation of the tragic cost of NZ life at Gallipoli sounds remarkably like the reinterpretation that the church has for upwards of 2000 years put on the living and dying of Jesus of Nazareth.
And I am troubled that the plethora of "news" items around the number of poppies that are being made all round the country is obscuring news about the appalling suffering taking place right now in almost the same part of the world that was the setting for the Gallipoli story.
The Anzac spirit might be better expressed in a massive intervention of compassion in the Middle East right now rather than so much focussing on the tragedies of a hundred years ago.

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