Category Archives: war

Dangerous Game

Spying – Word of the Day

XB9cZSg.jpg

Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod (nee Zelle) better known by her stage name Mata Hari (1876 – 1917), who was convicted by the French as a German spy during WW1. Historians have since demonstrated that she was betrayed by all, her lover, the French officers who recruited her, the justice system (an oxymoron if ever there was one), her fellow spies and others. She was convicted and executed even though there was no substantive evidence, other than that they said it was because as a woman she could not be trusted and she would use her wiles. She was indeed a victim, a scapegoat.

Dangerous Game

I was lost in your face,
your eyes sparkled
laughter like champagne.
You reeled me in,
my small talk generously indulged,
I thought one drink would cure my curiosity.
Besides, I had work to do,
family waiting.
But you had other plans,
your hand on mine
stroking.
Me all gibberish,
pulse racing,
I agreed.
Just how did you do that?
Furtive,
room 20,
you draped on the ottoman,
gold, bejewelled bra,
tiara.
Salome unveiled.
Beguiled, seduced,
I gave you my all.
My French for German,
secrets, unzipped,
pleasure washed over me
in waves of guilt.
Whispers exchanged,
I woke alone, betrayed.
Even so, for just one more touch,
I would trade anything.

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

29 Comments

Filed under history, life, love, poetry, Sex, war

The Beginning’s Never As Important

Placate – Word of the Day

chamn-mun01s.JPG

Photo: histclo.com

Neville Chamberlain (1869 – 1940) British Prime Minister 1937 – 1940, whose name is synonymous with appeasement. His first attempt was to keep Britain out of the Spanish Civil War in the hope of winning favour with Italy. His second was an attempt to buy favour with Italy in order to sway them from German influence, by recognising Italian sovereignty over Ethiopa. His third attempt was over three trips to Germany in an attempt to stop Hitler invading the rest of Czechoslovakia, caving in to most of Hitler’s demands. However, at the same time he escalated British military spending, production, and training, while forming alliances and pacts, notably with Poland, so, he wasn’t completely innactive in preparation.

Chamberlain’s main modus operandi was in trying to placate Hitler and Mussolini in order to prevent a major war in Europe. The famous moment was when he gave a speech, while waving the agreement with Hitler to honour the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia, speaking of “Peace with honour” a line he borrowed from Benjamin Disraeli, and “Peace for our time” (which is invariably misquoted as “Peace in our Time”). But history shows that Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement failed miserably, as Winston Churchill had predicted.

 

The Beginning’s Never As Important

I’m not sure where it began,
though you always say that doesn’t matter.
The beginning’s never as important as the end.

But my my mouth threw words like bullets on concrete,
hard, indiscriminate wounds
that imperilled our very being.

I tried to trace the history of the world,
and you retreated to foreign climes.
“I’m out of here if that’s how it is!”

I stared at the floor, my honour defended,
truth the ego’s demand.
While an ocean of tears formed a gulf between us.

The shadows grew long as the clock struck an hour.
Like metal on metal,
my nerves all jangled and churned.

In the embers of light I glimsed your face,
your cheekbones, your eyes, seemed soft.
I sank in your ocean and surrendered myself.

You welcomed me ashore,
embracing a long, lost friend.
And we dressed each other’s wounds.

“I feel so … when you … I do too, I’m sorry I …”
History resolved, the future imperative,
the beginning’s never as important as the end.

©Paul Cannon

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

17 Comments

Filed under politics, quote, war

Possessed by Desmothenes

Vehemently – Word of the Day

th.jpeg Desmothenes (385 – 322 BC) the man who rallied Athens as the forces of Philip ll of Macedon approached the city state.

Desmothenes was a lawyer and an orator, and clearly a persuasive one. The people of Athens had become indifferent to Philip’s ambitions to conquer the city states and control the whole region. They scoffed that they would be disadvantaged by Philip’s rule. The city would not marshal its army, they preferred to enjoy life instead. Desmothenes could see the problem clearly, could see Athens was doomed if nothing was done and done quickly. Desmothenes also knew enough about Philip to know that he was a tyrant and would not respect their democracy nor their Athenian culture.

What did Desmothenes do? He gave a vehement and rousing speech that rallied Athens to mobilise and defend itself. It was no rhetorical speech, it was a passionate call to arms for the sake all Athenians. Desmothenes believed in democracy and the rights of city states. He was able to point out that all this would be lost under Philip. Well, he achieved his aim, his speech won the day and the defence of the city, the cry went up “To arms, to arms.”

Winston Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons in 1940 “We shall go on to the end … We shall never surrender.”  Churchill’s speech is passionate and rousing, he is credited with drawing the nation into action after a period of apathy and fear. Churchill’s speech is often compared to that of Desmothenes. William Wilberforce speaking in the House of Commons in 1789, was vehemently opposed to slavery, and battled passionately to have a Bill passed to end it. It took nearly twenty years but he finally achieved that goal.

Tyrants are not always easy to read or detect. Some come as the very saviour, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Franco, Mussolini, Pinochet. Some present as good leaders, Peron, Nixon, Reagan, Thatcher, Blair, Bush Jnr., Putin. But all have been tyrants in their own way, disregarding democracy, human rights, and sovereignty. Sometimes the wolf is circling the camp and we cannot see it, and because we cannot see it we deny its existence. What exposes the wolf more is the lack of argument for a credible enemy or crisis (so usually they invent one, much as Putin is busy inventing reasons to remain illegally in Ukraine, and Trump militating to rile Iran). We need to be a little demosthenic, as the term goes, to be like Desmothenes and vehemently oppose such tyrants whether their tyranny is armed force, legislative force, or propaganda (or all of these) and to draw attention to enemy at our gates.

But to return to my favourite theme, the person, each of us needs to step up and deal with self first. It’s no good railing at politicians if we live as tyrants ourselves, hypocisy is corrosive in any society. If we do make like Desmothenes, as with Churchill, Wilberforce, or a Roosevelt, Lincoln, Washington, we may effect change for the good. Desmothenes singlehandedly turned a city state, imagine what four, five, or twenty Desmothenes could achieve with passion. There are plenty of things requiring our desmothenic attention, the environment, human rights, refugees, corruption, militarism, greed … but with vehemence, with passion, we can do just that.

Canned Heat: “Let’s Work together” 1970, not just another love song!

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

15 Comments

Filed under history, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, politics, quote, war

Elegant Humanitarian

Elegant – Word of the Day

Audrey-audrey-hepburn-19588118-1280-800.jpg

Audrey Hepburn (1929 – 1993), a personification of elegance. Certainly petite, refined, beautiful, and yes, elegant. But no matter who or what, we place that descriptor upon people or objects, it is our perception of them, not as they see themselves or how they experience themselves. We know that to be true because at times we are sometimes aware that we don’t see ourselves as others see us. Having said that, I’m happy to say that I think she’s elegant. I really enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but have seen most of her movies over the years. One of the contributing factors to her elegance was her stance, dress and movement – as a child she had learned ballet, and this was clearly formative.

She was ten when WW2 broke out. Her English/Austrian father was involved in the 1930s with the Dutch and British Fascist movements. Ironically hepburn and her mother were involved in fund raising for the Dutch Resistance, though by the time the Germans had invaded Holland, her father had left the family for England then on to Ireland. The war left an indelible imprint on her, she recounted the horror as a child of the invasion, the fighting, the death of family (an uncle was executed as a reprisal), seeing Jewish people being transported, especially children her age, firing squads and more. The food shortages were severe at the end of the war and Hepburn suffered acute anemia, repiratory problems, and edema which resulted from malnutrition.

Hepburn had a long association with UNICEF, having been one of the recipients of international aid in areas devastated by the war. Her formal association began in the 1950s when she narrated two radio programs for them. In 1989 she was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF. She served in that role until 1992, travelling to Ethiopia, Turkey, Venezuela, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Sudan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Somalia, to promote aid programs and listen to needs on the ground. She advocated for clean water and vaccination programs in particular, lobbying the UN and national governments.

During the Bangladesh visit she was observed hugging children who were covered in flies, she had no aversion, only compassion.

Two of my favourite Hepburn quotes are:

“Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicisation of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanisation of politics.”

“The ‘Third World’ is a term I don’t like very much, because we’re all one world. I want people to know that the largest part of humanity is suffering.”

I think her true elegance was in her humanitarian work, that she loved the unloveable, wasn’t afraid to get dirty, was passionate in her advocacy and lobbying. She brought a gravitas, dignity and integrity to the role. Which brings me back to the comment I made earlier, elegance in looks is about perception and description, but elegance in behaviour is something more, it is that inner beauty we speak of, embodied, tangible, and lived, it is real. Hepburn lived her humanitarian work. Hepburn once quipped that ordinary working women could achieve her fashion look easily (and told them how). I think everyday people can achieve her lived elegance in compassion.

Paul,

pvcann.com

17 Comments

Filed under history, life, mindfulness, politics, quote, war