WHEN I met my mother for lunch last week, she was, as she usually is at this time of the year, wearing a poppy. It was the last day of October and I suggested that it was more appropriate to wait until November was upon us – being the month of remembrance – to wear the little red flower. 

She rebuked me by saying that there was never a wrong time to wear a poppy. “And why aren’t you wearing one,” she added.

Why indeed? 

In recent years, the poppy has become fetishized and weaponised to convey something darker.

Swollen and distorted caricatures of the poppy now adorn buses and heavy vehicles and it seems that all television presenters for many weeks before Remembrance Sunday are compelled to wear it. 

Vast and garish poppy installations now appear all over the UK. In some places, poppy vigilantes scan social media to target public figures caught without a poppy on their lapels or coats. 

It undermines and disfigures all that the poppy is supposed to represent: peace, humility, lost innocence and beauty amid the black ugliness of war.

And yet … it’s also worth remembering that the vast majority of people who wear a poppy at this time of year choose to do so simply out of respect for the memory of those who gave their lives that the rest of us might have peace in ours. 

One young friend of mine, with no particular political or cultural baggage, said to me this week: “I don’t wear it to make any kind of political statement. I think of all those people who went to war and never came back, those who came back and were never able to speak about it. We will never be asked to endure what they endured. That’s why I wear it.”

Crude slogans
IN the north-west corner of Glasgow’s George Square, a small Garden of Remembrance has emerged featuring little crosses bearing the names of the British regiments who lost soldiers in the two great wars. 

Just yards away was the detritus of yet another pro-Palestine protest, channelling hatred of Israel. On the square itself crude slogans had been chalked, including “victory to the intifada”, “Zionism is racism” and “stop ethnic cleansing”.

These defamations of the state of Israel and Jewish communities seemed particularly vicious being in such close proximity to the wooden crosses in the Remembrance Garden. 

As the Second World War entered its final stages, the world gradually began to know about the very real genocide that had been visited on six million Jews by the Nazis, the slime of humanity. 

Just a few weeks after the savages of Hamas had slaughtered and tortured Jews and their friends in the most unimaginable ways, some of my Jewish friends feel that parts of Glasgow are no-go areas for them during these protests. 

When I wear my poppy this weekend it will be for those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might have a better life, but also for the Jewish people who perished and who are experiencing a surge of anti-Semitic hate across Europe. 

Bean on a march
SOME of those leading the Palestinian protest marches belong to what you might call the Kelvinside Revolutionary Front. 

The Herald: Marchers in Glasgow

They are never far away when other political protests throughout the year gather around the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall steps at the top of Buchanan Street. Some individuals spend almost as much time on those steps as Donald Dewar’s statue.   

Another issued a mild “we see you” threat on social media last week to journalists whom they’d felt weren’t doing enough to criticise Israel’s bombardment of Gaza City. What were they going to do? Start throwing their empty artisan latte paper cups at us? 

False assumption 
SOME of us who profess to be Christians have profound admiration for our Jewish friends and neighbours on account of the suffering and discrimination they and their forebears have endured for many centuries across Europe.

Yet we also struggle to justify the bombing of Gaza City which has killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians. 

Others point to the allies’ carpet bombing of Dresden at the end of the Second World War and the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as examples of necessary evils to prevent long-term bloodshed. 

This assumes that we would have been onboard with these acts too. It’s a false assumption, though. 
Knowingly to kill thousands of innocents in a mere belief (but not a guarantee) that the Second World War would be brought to an end more quickly is inconsistent with two of the main tenets of the Christian faith: that only God holds the power of life and death in these circumstances, and that the power of prayer will always offer hope to the afflicted. 

You may choose to mock such beliefs, but they remain at the heart of the faith we profess.