Is It Only About War?
Someone said to me the other day that they hoped the Empty Gallery's exhibition In the Shadows of War and Peace nor the 1910's Choir was just going to be about war, because it would be too depressing. I sympathise with the sentiment but I'm not sure how, if we are to reflect on the contrast between 1914 and 2014, or the 100 years between, in which Britain has permanently been at war somewhere in the world, that you can escape its shadow. Does this mean therefor it all has to be depressing? I think not. Contrast gives a greater sense of value; loss reminds us of what we have, war the value of peace.
Those of us who were on the the anti Iraq War march in February 2003, will remember, despite the feelings of anger or dismay, that brought us there, that there was a carnival atmosphere. It was the largest protest event in human history. According to BBC News between six and ten million people took part in up to sixty countries. Being among a million people in London, approaching Green Park you could hear a roar start down on the Embankment, make its way, like a Mexican wave, along Northumberland Avenue and Charing Cross, over our heads, when we roared and listened again as it headed along Piccadilly and on to the front of the march now entering Hyde Park. A million people united by their feeling of disunity with their government. There are huge paradoxes. Insane as it may be, it seems that the greatest lessons we've learned about how to live with peace is through war. In the aftermath of the First World War women got the vote, in the immediate aftermath of World War Two we were finally inspired as a nation to create a National Health Service. The late, great Tony Benn eloquently explains some interesting points about war and peace in a short interview with the American film director and activist Michael Moore.