Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lest we Forget

Recycled from last year, because I don't know how to say it better (Also, the nail-biting win by the dons seems to have scrambled by brain. More on that tomorrow):

So, Anzac day. I confess that I tend to think less exclusively of those who specifically lost their lives at Anzac Cove on the 25th April, and more of all those who lost their lives, regardless of where they fell. Part of this is personal experience. I’ve been to the shrine on Anzac day for the dawn service, and was touched by it.

But something has touched me more. Given me more of a sense of scale. When I was fourteen or fifteen, I forget which, I spent a month travelling around France. Part or that time we spent in Paris, and the rest we spent travelling around on a kind of “History Holiday”

We visited the American war cemetery. We visited the British War Cemetery, and found the grave of my maternal grandfathers brother, who died at Normandy, I believe. We visited the German war cemetery, the beaches at Normandy, stood in the bunkers along the shore. Ran up and down large craters by the sand and realised only later that they weren’t natural dunes. Ran my fingers along the pock marks left by bullets in concrete walls and stood in fields where cows should be grazing, that instead are adorned by rows upon rows of headstones.

I’ve craned my neck to see the top name on monuments to those who lost their lives. I’ve been in the mausoleums. I’ve almost wept at the memory of the German War cemetery, which was the saddest of all.

I know Germany were the losers in World War one and two. I know history is written by the victors. I know that they were lead by a crazy man with a weird moustache. I know that the SS and the German war machine committed terrible atrocities, and some people still carry the scars and always will. But the men who went over the top and got a bullet for their trouble were following orders just like Digger Joe or Tommy Smith. They paid the ultimate price for that, as our men did. I think the least we could do is afford them some peace and a respite from politics in death.

And so it was hard to see the cemetery. It was basically just a round wall, with plaques. There was no field with headstones for each man, as with the American and British war cemeteries. No such dignity. From what we learned there, the German War Cemetery was run solely on donations. There was no funding from the German government, who did not want to be seen to be mourning men the world condemns, no funding from the French government and no hope of additional space.

I hope things have changed since then. I sincerely do. But back to my point (See what happens when you rush and can’t edit?)

I can’t put into words – although I’ll try – the scale of what you see in France. I can’t find the right phrase for the thousands upon thousands of headstones. You stand there and you know these were fathers, brother and sons – all the usual things you think when you see a grave. But this is on such a massive, bewildering scale. As far as the eye can see in every direction are headstones. Under each of those headstones lies someone loved. Someone missed. Someone grieved for. Men who did no more than be of certain ages and live in a certain time, condemned to die because politicians could not agree. It’s unimaginable.

I think everyone should visit the war cemeteries and the landing beaches in Normandy once in their lives. To see what is truly meant by the “ultimate sacrifice”. Generations of men cut to ribbons by machine gun fire or bayonet charge because of the actions of a few. We owe it to their memories and the sacrifice they made to prevent such suffering again if we can. To make sure we truly live up to the “Lest we Forget” promise. I can think of no better legacy than to make sure there doesn’t need to be another “War to end all Wars”

Just to be clear, I think politics is best left out of these days. This is one of few days where you should leave your ideology at the door and bow your head. These men didn't go to their death so we could use their demise in a political-point scoring game.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And you wonder why I'm no longer Catholic

Cardinal Pell has written an article for the Herald Sun regarding the spread of AIDS in Africa, and the Catholic Churches teaching on the subject. His first point is thus:

"To blame Catholic teaching for the spread of HIV/AIDS requires proof that those following the first essential Christian requirement of living chastely within and before marriage are still dying of AIDS. Pigs will fly before that argument does. "

Um, really? Because there are dozens upon dozens of documented cases out there of women who are infected by their husband. Primarily because the husbands play away with prostitutes and sex education - partciularly safe sex - has been hampered by the very types who either agree with Cardinal Pell or pander to those who do.

His second point:

"Infected people who are prepared to put the health of their partners at risk are unlikely to give a moment's consideration to Catholic teaching on condoms."

I'm sorry, but is anyone else seeing the contradiction here? Those infected people likely wouldn't be infected if they disregarded the Catholic Churches teaching on Comdoms in the first place. If the sex-workers spreading the disease were properly educated, we wouldn't have an issue either.

Cardinal Pell, a word in your shell-hole. The spread of HIV and AIDS in developed countries has largely been arrested through the use of Condoms and education on Safe-sex. Not the increase in chastity, which is on the slide, or by people waiting until their wedding night. I don't have any problem with the Catholic Church advocating for either of those things, as long as they make it clear, like Proffessor Green, whom Cardinal Pell quotes, that these measures are best backed up by sex-education and condom use.

Until the Catholic Church does so, I'll have a hard time believing they are doing anything other than pushing their own agenda.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lazy Saturday Reading

An interesting article on why it might be too soon to hope things are on the up and up

Monday, April 13, 2009

Normal Programming Resumed

So, how was everyones Easter?

We're back from camping in the Mulwala National Park, and we had a good time.

There were puppehs:

Good Friends:

A Temporary Home:

Nature putting on a show:

The Annual Camping Dress-up Fest:

Jimi as Satan:

Me as a cowgirl/sherrif:

Jeremy was obviously very impressed with whatever I'd just said:

And, just because this makes me laugh, a photo I call The Unstoppable Spread of Left Wing Media Bias':

Thursday, April 09, 2009

If you're reading this, I've been kidnapped

Either that or I'm off to the Usual Easter Camping Spot until Monday/Tuesday, depending on how long I can convince the other half to survive without Intertubes access and gadgetry.

Happy Easter, Intertubes.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What is it with Teh Left and violence?

Overheard whilst the other half plays Civ Revolution:

"Suck shit, Ghandi!"

Friday, April 03, 2009

Who hasn't?

I read with - I have to admit - a hint of pride the tale of the Prime Minister of this big brown land giving a flight attendant a telling-off for buggering up a meal request.

I'm sorry, but if you get shit service, you complain. Why shouldn't the Prime Minister be able to do the same? And has anyone not wanted to do the same? Aeroplane food is awful. Universally, all-encompassingly bad.

If anyone should have been crying, it should have been the PM. I know that's my reaction when faced with Aeroplane Food.

DISCLOSURE: Not a member of the ALP, never voted ALP or Liberal. I'm a Greens member who votes - funnily enough, Greens - and before that, voted Democrat.

And if it was Howard, I'd be giving him a pat on the back as well.