Why I am NOT adding the Tricolour to my Facebook page.
We worked hard when curating our night time cemetery Remembrance events to ensure that none of the poems carried the jingoistic rhetoric that appeared in the lead up to the First World War and continued well into 1915.
No Man’s Land, the 2012 event across the central London Underground tube station network, focused on the blindness of a European public in 1913-15 as war spread across the continent. Arrogant politicians quelled anxieties with a mixture of bravado and economic carrots to keep dissent to a minimum.
In 2013, Silent Cacophony explored how people remember the moments before a sudden explosion or attack. People often build a picture of the moment ‘just before’, but in normal life few take time to reflect on the moment they are experiencing, or that which had just past. Only in times of sudden trauma does this tend to take place, often followed by regret. In our capitalist, marketing led economic system there is the strong pull of nostalgia or the promise of a new or bright future, yet the moment you are living, the only one that exists, is ignored.
The tragedy of Paris is the tragedy of the world – Friday was part of the awful events tearing apart ‘moments’ in peoples lives; wiping out hope, love, sharing and enjoyment right across the planet.
I have an understanding for the reactions of people wishing to display the tricolour of the French flag on their social media wall or public buildings and the war rhetoric of the French President as he speaks emotionally to the French people about inflicting more suffering on others.
But does this work in achieving peace and safety and hope and love?
The French Tricolour is a symbol of nation state, of borders, of power. Whether through nationalism, religious doctrine, political thought or the pure greed system that we have been embracing for hundreds of years, the violence will not stop until we rethink our whole system. Displaying symbols such as flags provides weak, self-seeking politicians with the belief that the world backs their ill-conceived inflammatory words that peace and showing love cannot work.
It can work! Rhetoric of peace is more likely to penetrate the deaf ears of young men from Friday and elsewhere than the bloated words of the fat bully.
Can a world really continue where one half is looking for their next meal and the other deciding when next to upgrade their i-phone? A fundamental shift is required in all our thinking, and it is this that I feel we should all be symbolising on our social media pages.
John McKiernan is the founder of Platform-7 and curated multi-site events during Remembrance exploring how people reach their opinion on war and conflict.