Friday, 4 August 2017

people power at the imperial war museum

On Saturday 29th July Bethan and I went to a paying exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, People Power: Fighting For Peace. It was okay.

There was probably less to it than we expected; and although there were quite a few original documents like letters, in general you couldn't read the handwritten stuff. It was interesting to hear recordings of Paul Eddington talking about being a conscientious objector in WWII (I had known he was a Quaker, but if I knew he was a c.o. I'd forgotten it). One of his former teachers gave him good advice about going before the panel (or however it was done): you don't have to persuade them that you are right, but that you believe you are right.

It had four sections, broadly: conscientious objection in WWI, in WWII, Cold War anti-nuclear, and modern anti-war protests. I had varying degrees of sympathy with these. Conscientious objection is hard to sustain when others are fighting and dying on your behalf. Anti-nuclear is a specific thing to object to; anti-war is a wooly and vague luxury. There is progressively less cost and responsibility involved in these four kinds of protest, I think. And I don't like the general attitude that if you are not 'anti-war' (in their terms) then you are 'anti-peace'. Everyone is pro-peace and anti-war, but most people understand that sometimes war is necessary for peace and freedom and justice. And rather like referenda, a single yes/no question has many other issues bundled in with it and isn't always about what it appears to be about and isn't about the same thing for everybody.