Custom Search
Top Stories
Go to Site Index See "Top Stories" main page
COMMENTARY · 1st November 2012
Merv Ritchie
At the risk of alienating and offending the last of our readers I must, once again, challenge the use of the poppy as a symbol for those who defended our freedoms and way of life. The red four petal flower evokes heartfelt love, respect and passion from almost every citizen.

The first time my children ever saw me cry, "Why are you crying Papa", was on November 11 during the Remembrance Day ceremonies. I had to take the time to explain to 7 year old Dominique and 5 year old Louis, the loss of life of the millions of men and women.

Like the Christian Cross or the American Flag, the vision of the Red Poppy tells an entire story. But this story is erroneous. In a hundred years from now or maybe 1000 years in the future, historians might look at our admiration of the poppy, the use of this opium drug flower as a lapel pin to honour our war dead, as an obvious declaration of our unanimous understanding of how we killed millions of men and women, destroyed nations and entire cultures, for drug profits.

In Flanders Field. A poem written during the First World War by a Canadian Physician, spoke about the poppy growing among the graves of the fallen soldiers.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

So why the Red Poppy? Why not a torch being grasped by two right hands, why not larks in the foreground of a dawn sky? Even a cross to truly represent a fallen soldier? Why not some other image other than the plant which produces the opiate that the Chinese lost Hong Kong over, in their struggles to keep the British from addicting their citizens?

Today in Afghanistan, our soldiers continue to fall for this drug. In both ways.

Many do not understand the truth, the reality of what happened in Afghanistan. Some believe the American, British and Canadian involvement was due to the Taliban government supporting Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida and the attacks on the twin World Trade Towers (even though three buildings imploded). Others believe it was due to the big oil interests (Unocal) desire to construct a large pipeline network from Central Asia through to Pakistan. And yet others, and I fall into this camp, believe it was due to the Taliban completely eradicating the poppy fields.

In the year just prior to the invasion and bombing of Afghanistan, the government of Afghanistan had all but completely eradicated Opium (poppy) fields. The year 2001 was the record for the lowest production of opium on the globe. The world immediately suffered a shortage of drugs.

Those who understand the realities of the economic system understand without drug money to launder, the stock market would go flat, likely fail altogether.

For more on how the drug trade has fuelled all the latest conflicts including Vietnam, read this article on Global Research

From our own pages with links and more from an earlier controversial writing Click here

One wonders if John McCrae had a completely different intention by his poem about Flanders Field. It is reported that he initially crumpled up his composition and threw the poem away. Was he disgusted by the wasted lives, the death all around him? Did he know it was all about a drug war?

McCrae was not a stupid man and poetry is all about analogies and hidden meanings. If it was re-read with an eye on the drug wars based on opium production, the disgusting death caused by the poppy flower, maybe we could find it in our hearts to open our minds.

If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow, in Flanders fields.

In the centuries that follow, English Literature courses might examine the intricacies of the words composed by McCrae and find numerous ways to show how his words were an expression of disdain for the Poppy and the causes of the mass graves.

Today however, maybe we are too close to the pain and suffering and blindly ignore the obvious, willing comply with the accepted contentions and conventions. And then maybe this blind compliance, this apathetic, in fact completely pathetic, lack of Canadian spinal fortitude is how China will own all of Canada’s resources.

After watching Stephen Harper turn on his word and re-name everything back to the official title of Royal to honour Canada’s true owners, Britain, this takeover by China might be Karmic. The spirits of the fallen enacting true retribution for Britain repeatedly attacking China between 1839 and 1860 to force the Chinese to let the British Navel Fleet and government addict all their people to Opium. It was what built the British Military in the first place, beautiful red poppies.

I once was lost, but now I see. I’ll wear a cross to respect the dead, only a wretch would wear something to symbolize the world drug trade, the profiteering from death. Amazing isn’t it?

Tears will likely stream down into my beard again this year. But it will not be just for the millions who died in vain, it will be for our culture, our civilization, my friends and neighbours who remain blind. For those who proudly display the symbol of death and drug addiction on their lapels because, well that’s what we’ve always done.

In my sad little way, I hope the pin pokes us, and every time it does we think about a heroin addict and maybe even the stock market which stole all our retirement savings, while laundering their drug profits.

This is not disrespectful, it is blatantly open honest and respectful of common sense and dignity. I have never been one to follow the crowd because the crowd usually follows the bully. And in the case of the Poppy, the crowd is wrong yet again. I remain ashamed of our civilization. Not of our fallen men and woman or the good work and the fund raising our veterans perform, just our cognitive dissonance.

Clutching at straws
Comment by J Bell on 11th November 2012
The poppy is just a symbol - like all symbols, they have slightly different meanings to everyone. I am 26 years old and have lived in Canada my whole life - I cannot possibly fully understand the suffering of war. I do feel any pride in going to war, nor fool myself into thinking I understand the full history behind it. But I wear the poppy, sing our Anthem, and reflect during our minute of silence if not wholly on the losses from war, then on my personal losses as well, so that I may remember my own fraction of grief and hopelessness - small though it may be compared to those who fought in the trenches.

The poppy as a symbol of fallen soldiers arose from that poem, written by a man who looked upon a field of dead men and saw poppies. I don't think he was thinking much about opium wars at the time. Time and experience changes the meaning of symbols as society and culture evolve (for example, the City of Prince Rupert was not called the City of Rainbows in honor of its LGBT community). So why not just let the poppy continue to exist? Undoubtably it will represent death to some, freedom to others, and inspire emotions in people ranging from grief, peace, freedom, pride, anger, and sorrow. I am of a generation that has never experienced the trauma of true war - and speaking for myself, without the poppy (or whatever symbol could have been chosen) as a repeating meme throughout my childhood I would not even bother to contemplate the spirit of Rememberance Day at all. Which would be a shame. The poppy is ingrained onto many cultures - changing it on grounds that it is associated with opium would be like changing the colour of the Canadian flag because some people associate Red with Communism. Which is, in my opinion, clutching at straws.

On a far less diplomatic not - comparing our Girl Guides Brownies to Hitler Youth is utter garbage. Shame on you. They are 8 year olds trying to "do their best" and "be prepared" and sell cookies for heaven's sake. They are being taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think.
Comment by charlie meek on 5th November 2012
I think when you wrote this story, perhaps you were on drugs. leave the poppy as the symbol we know, it has been recognised for many years, and I as a veteran wear it proudly. the next thing i will read is you want to do away with Remembrance Day... remember it is because of those men and women who gave their lives for freedom, that allows you to write what you want, so when i see you in the Legion on Nov 11th, I hope to see YOU WEARING A POPPY....."We will remember them"
Here is an interesting article.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 5th November 2012
I wear a poppy but it probably doesn't mean the same thing for me as it does for others. That is a longer story. I did find an column by renown journalist Robert Fisk that was interesting and provocative.

Black armband
Comment by Terry on 2nd November 2012
Perhaps a black armband to honour our fallen and the murder of our democracy by the harper government . Were it not for him there would be no fallen in Afghanistan .
Right-on Merv
Comment by unctomato on 2nd November 2012
I vote for the larks in dawning background. Has anyone else notice the decline of 'remembrance' and the rise of 'military' like in the US of A? Part of Harper's plan to make us a petrostate? My father fought in WWI. I remember him on Nov 11 and don"t buy poppies anymore (is that a song?).
Comment by Amy Scott on 2nd November 2012
"In the familiar forms of totalitarianism, “the big lie” occurs in a moving, ad hoc form - typically targeting an internal group for systematic attack by brutal persecution, and filling the news with false portrayals of an external enemy."

In the Afghan war the external enemy is portrayed as Osama, Taliban, Al Qaeda.

I wanted to say that the opium fields are a big money maker/controller, and so are the other recources, gold, copper, oil, gas recently discovered.

This may be another topic?:

Just wondering Merv... do you also object to wearing gold and diamonds , and do you wish we would not need to rely so much on oil, and gas?

Yes, no jewelery on me, and I cut our lawn with a push mower and shovel the snow with a shovel. I drive, using fuel oil, as I need to, not as I want to.
Comment by Amy Scott on 1st November 2012
you'd think after more than 10 years it would be common knowledge.

I think that if people don't believe what Merv is saying, and the poppy helps them to remember and have nice feelings associated with the symbol, then thats cool too.

I guess we believe what we need to.

Its hard not to force naivety to remain at a steady equilibrium. Its even harder to surrender that naivety and become vulnerable, especially when not many people are along for that ride yet.
I appreciate your guts Merv.

right on..
Comment by sheep on 1st November 2012
i've known this all for years...

but it's still surprising how many people refuse to believe. all one has to do is look at the facts.
yet another conspiracy theory Merv?
Comment by djb on 1st November 2012
While I believe you do not mean to be disrespectful, I find it rather odd that you connect this symbol with drug addiction and govenrment lack of control over resources. Why do most of your commentries revolve around alleged government conspiracies?
My father served in WW2 and I will proudly wear a poppy to show support to his, and all, generatons of service men and women.

Merv Responds: This is no conspiracy theory. It is a presentation of facts alone. Links are provided in this writing and in the linked writings. My Grandfather was a Navy man in WWI, The great War, and I have his medals and his wooden Navy box proudly in my possession. I present reasoned arguements and expect reasoned debate in return, not accusations meant to belittle without offering anything of substance. I welcome a challenge of thought and logic. And further, I offer commentaries on every topic, was the bully issue a conspiracy? No Are my challenges to the Band Councils disrespecting their traditional system conspiracy theories, No.

Please do not play the mainstream media discrediting game here. Use reason, logic and facts to present your debate and challenge to my hypothesis.
In Reply to 'Missed' - Hitler brought us the Volkswagen
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 1st November 2012
Hitler brought us the Volkswagen?

Saying the Taliban eradicated the drug trade is like saying Hitler brought us the Volkswagen.

Yes, and the sky is blue and apples grow on trees, what is the point of this statement? They are both true.

The Volkswagen however was brought about due to the financial hardship imposed on German after the reparations demanded by the bankers following the First World War. Hitler wanted an affordable vehicle for the common man and woman. When private industry couldn’t do it he did. The Afghanistan Government destroyed the poppy production after the western governments told then they would help their farmers and the government transition to a different economy than the opiate trade. The west lied; they provided nothing for support as they claimed they would.

So your analogy is not analogous in any manner.

I think that it's much more likely that our politicians have probably decided to curry favour with the Drug Lords because of the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Very short sighted thinking as we should have learned from our former allegiance with Osam Bin Ladin.
I wonder which politician can take credit for that?

The politicians of the west are the drug lords. Recently it was exposed how Oliver North and the CIA provide cocaine to America and guns to South American rebels. Canada supplied weaponry to Libya, Afghanistan and now most certainly Syrian rebels, while leaving our northern and First Nations communities in squalor, drug and alcohol addicted, rife with suicide. Our government is the enemy of the people.

As far as the poppy goes, as a symbol it's great. Torches and hands are already symbols for other causes.

Glad you like it. Truly. I am glad it evokes emotion and memories of the stupid things our governments have done, all governments. Please listen to Bob Dylan’s m”Masters of War” and Buffy St Marie’s “Universal Soldier”, after you pin that poppy on your lapel.

Until your editorial I had never heard of anyone seriously confusing the red Poppy with any other cause.

Nor have I. And one can say this red poppy is different than the opium poppy, as it is. But one must consider why this is chosen. Is it a distraction to hide the truth from the masses? My mother was born in Hitlers Germany. She was part of his brown shirted youth, kinda like our Brownies today. She and every German believed in and trusted their leader who brought them wealth and prosperity. They were all as fooled as we are today in our fascist state we call Canada. A stolen election and Canadians stay seated on their backsides, China overtaking and we remain compliant. Fools, all of us. Our economy is based on death and destruction, nothing less.

And it's simple to make, simple to ship, and simple to wear. You can't even put it on upside down. Let's keep it simple.

Yeah simple for simple minds.

Here, I composed this poem for everyone.

As an analogy bridge

Even when provided links

You can lead men to knowledge

But you just can’t make them think

When I see a Poppy I just honour our Armed Forces and hope that someday we won't need them.

Chances are, and this is the law our government is passing today, they will be used against you and me. The Harper Government has just sworn an oath to China to use our armed forces to protect China’s investments, even if it means against Canadians. You will need them but they will be fighting you.

Sit on your ass and accept that for your grandchildren’s grandchildren.
For heaven's sake
Comment by K. Pinchbeck on 1st November 2012
Get a grip.
I will proudly and thankfully wear a poppy till the day I die.
Comment by Terry on 1st November 2012
Thanks Merv . I won't wear it either . I was admonished for not wearing it and told we must support the troops . I say we all support our troops every time we pay our taxes . It is Harper who does the biggest disservice too them by letting the fallen ,wounded and their families live in poverty . On one hand he says he respects them and on the other he cuts their benefits and pensions . He has now figured out how to wash his hands of them by giving our wounded lump sums . Wounded , damaged and he lures them with a carrot that he must know will not see them to the end of the road . When I see Harper wear a poppy it makes me want to puke and he's itching to soak his hands in Iranian blood mixed with ours . These days it takes more courage to not be a sheep .
Comment by Proudman on 1st November 2012
Saying the Taliban eradicated the drug trade is like saying Hitler brought us the Volkswagen.
I think that it's much more likely that our politicians have probably decided to curry favour with the Drug Lords because of the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Very short sighted thinking as we should have learned from our former allegiance with Osam Bin Ladin.
I wonder which politician can take credit for that?
As far as the poppy goes, as a symbol it's great. Torches and hands are already symbols for other causes. Until your editorial I had never heard of anyone seriously confusing the red Poppy with any other cause.
And it's simple to make, simple to ship, and simple to wear. You can't even put it on upside down.
Let's keep it simple. When I see a Poppy I just honour our Armed Forces and hope that someday we won't need them.