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War and Loss

Reflections: 15 August 2012 - Andrew Gardner

My mother's ninth birthday was on 15 August 1945 - the day of victory over Japan - and she was allowed a small glass of port. She'd known nothing but hardship and bombing, and there was more hardship to come. VJ day was celebrated as the final end; meanwhile rationing continued, as the victors fed those they had conquered. Anger was fed, too.

These days we think differently, particularly in nonconformist churches, and we do not celebrate so much as mourn that such times were dealt from human to human. War did not end on VJ Day, and we are liable to despair that humans may ever stop their slaughter.

There is space to pause, and perhaps the Olympics provided some space as we welcomed visitors to London, without xenophobia or, worse, stereotyped expectations. Young Germans are no more responsible for the genocide of National Socialism than are young Russians responsible for the genocide of Lenin. Decisions then taken, several generations ago now, were not theirs. Let's examine ourselves as we are, not as we were.