Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Swords into ploughshares - when?

The 'Echo' did an excellent piece today on the launch of this year's poppy appeal by two serving soldiers standing under the tree in St John's Churchyard, which is decorated with giant poppies, for the three weeks before the RBL's annual Garden of Remembrance is set up. I was glad to be asked for a quote for the article last Friday. It's so important, given the terrible conditions now being faced in Afghanistan as in Iraq before, that our service men and women are acknowledged and supported. The veterans of the RBL are among the best placed people in the country to give a lead in this, and I'm proud, as their chaplain, to support them in this.

It must be said that there is a certain irony about poppies in the context of Afghanistan. Those that flourish in the killing fields of Flanders don't contain the high level of opiates that make Afghan poppies into a lucrative cash crop, to convert into heroin to feed addicts all over the world. The income buys weapons, explosives and other technologies which make the Taliban such a powerful adversary, as well as providing poor and marginalised farmers with a meagre living. If only an end could be made to the vicious wealth creating cycle of addiction and armaments, which makes it so difficult to raise up the poorest of the poor, by education and the tools for sustainable means of development.

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