Time for change

Published on: 1 September 2018

Iain explores that remembering the Armistice is an opportunity for us to consider being the change we wish to see in the world.

At 11 o’clock on 11 November many people will attend events to commemorate the signing of the Armistice a hundred years ago, when the guns fell silent and H.G.Well’s “war to end all wars” finally drew to a close. In four years the world had seen the full horror of the industrialisation of death. The first day of the Battle of the Somme saw men fall like corn before the scythe as they advanced across open fields into the teeth of machine guns and mortars. 59,000 became casualties in a single day.

Many will read, or have read to them by a Girl Guide or local dignitary, the names on their war memorial. To most of us they are now sadly, just names. Those they loved and left behind are, for the most part, gone and their memory has faded. They are faceless, people with no stories and little meaning to us.

The Second World War produced even higher casualty numbers with 2,000 deaths for every 100,000 people in the general population. Today that figure stands at 1.5 per 100,000. That might tempt us to assume that we are finally bringing peace on earth and we are, indeed, a far less violence-riven people than we were. In the 1950s there were six wars between sovereign nations and the figure now stands at less than one a year. Despite this, the 24-hour rolling news networks still manage to deliver footage of death and destruction on an hourly basis.

It seems our world is still at war, and it is. But things have changed. It is no longer strategically fought on battlefields by professionally trained, well equipped soldiers. It is now more likely to be an internal struggle, a vicious tribal or civil war. Where once the principal casualties were soldiers now they are civilians, especially women and children. The weapons of choice are not the huge cannons or machine guns of Passchendaele but rape, dismemberment, and ethnic cleansing.

The media often do not regard such events as worthy of reporting. The deaths of 40 people in Myanmar is not as likely to make the headlines as a team’s loss in a World Cup semi-final. The systematic extermination of a town in Yemen will probably not attract the same weight as another minister resigning over Brexit. Why? The answer is that the victims, like the names on our war memorials, are faceless. We do not know them and their remoteness from us strips away our compassion.

Ghandi suggested that we must bethe change we wish to see in the world, and as Christians we must be the loving, forgiving, generous people that Christ asked us to be. We must stand up and make mature, informed political choices that are based not on self-interest, but on what is best for everyone in our whole world, not just our own corner of it. We must be the voice of the weak and the vulnerable.

Perhaps the Armistice is a time for change?

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Articles in this issue...

Being at peace

Peace – a word we use a lot in church. “Peace be with you”, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth”, “The peace of God which passes all understanding…”


Overstrand remembers World War One

Tim Bennet looks at how the parish in Overstrand is playing its part in remembering those from their community who lost their lives in WW1.


Outside the wire

Recently, it has been recognised that some active and veteran service personnel have been affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Biddy Collyer found out more about a local charity that offers support.


Harleston champions of peace

You may remember the occasion when St John’s Harleston had been invaded by cranes. Thankfully, it was a peaceful invasion of 1,000 paper origami cranes, each a folded message of peace from local school children. Rector Nigel Tufnell takes up the tale.


We will remember them

To mark the centenary of World War One, Revd Keith Dally, Priest-in-Charge of the United Benefice of Kings Beck, set out in 2014 to research the names on the Rolls of Honour of the six Churches of the Benefice – Banningham, Colby, Felmingham, Skeyton, Suffield and Tuttington.


Meeting Edith – peace and turmoil combine in Norwich Cathedral

As many will know, WW1 national heroine Matron Edith Cavell is buried in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, a place she loved, having grown up in the village of Swardeston. Edith was born in the vicarage there in 1865. Janet Marshall, takes up the tale.


The Big Sing for Peace with Archbishop Justin

It was Saint Augustine who is reputed to have said: "Those who sing pray twice".


Reconciliation: The desire of my heart

Susanna Gunner shares Archbishop Justin's passion for reconciliation and offers an invitation to pray with him for peace in Norwich Cathedral this November.


A prophet for peace

Bishop Graham says: “I always get Sami to speak to our pilgrimage groups since he is engaged in peacemaking between Palestinians and Israeli Settlers. Scarcely anyone else is attempting such dialogue.” Sami shares his personal view of a Christ-centered peacemaking approach.


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