The sanctimonious poppy police should perhaps spend more time in quiet remembrance
Wearing a poppy at this time of year means different things to different people.
For some, it is an acutely specific tribute to those who lost their lives during the Great War. For others, it represents the sacrifice that any serviceman or woman has made for their country from that time forth. Others still perceive it as a very direct way of donating to an extremely worthy cause.
Sadly, the beautifully poignant and purposely humble symbol of the poppy has added connotations these days. Rather being an icon of pure remembrance, it has become an ominous precursor to rage, rushed judgement, sanctimony and frothing hatred. The only thing people remember is to get vexed.
Some folk choose to wear poppies, some do not. In previous years and decades that wasn't really an issue. Sadly no more. We now live in an age when those with far too much bitterness in their hearts and time on their hands engage in furious crusades to dictate how others look, feel and behave. They are the poppy police.
They want everyone to adorn themselves with the tribute, and demand that the small red flower is pinned absolutely everywhere - without exception. It is their strong belief that anyone sans poppy is a heartless bastard who needs to be outed and condemned for mocking the dead via their unpatriotic inaction.
The irony of remembering those who fought against fascism in such a totalitarian way is completely lost on them. Nor do they seem to accept that the physical replica of a poppy is not the be-all and end-all of remembrance. If you don't wear the poppy you can't possibly care; an empty lapel marks you out as heartless.
The likes of Irish international footballer James McClean is branded an enemy in our midst for opting out, despite the fact that he has very personal and valid reasons not to participate. For many it would be far preferable for the Derry man to act as a tremendous hypocrite and wear one regardless.
This is the crux of the issue, and the stupidity of the rage. Poppy-wearing is seen as completely synonymous with caring. If you don't wear one, you don't care (despite the fact you should). Conversely, if you do wear one, you suddenly care. It's as if the poppy holds magical powers to cure the deplorably indifferent.
It's a special kind of bollocks and makes a mockery of actual remembrance. How the fuck is something that's essentially compulsory meant to be absolutely genuine? If anything it dilutes sincere reflection, and renders the wearing of a poppy meaningless. It begins to symbolise not getting beaten up.
All the online and comments section anger makes you wonder how many of those most passionately protesting are merely doing so in order to be seen to care. They end up playing a morbid game of remembrance Top Trumps. If it were social acceptable, would they go around wearing charity donation cheques pinned to their breasts too?
It's a joke. Let people do what they want to do. Who are you to judge whether someone is genuinely touched in their hearts by something, purely based on what they wear? Many people around the country bear the poppy with immense pride and deep feeling, and good on them. But some people don't, and good on them too.
They don't need to wear one, to validate themselves or their feelings, to you. It's not actively opting out, it's just not actively doing something. To lack a poppy is not to desecrate the memories of the fallen. It is just something you can't physically see. Perhaps less moaning about others and more true reflection is the key.