The possibility of Change

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Following on, coincidentally, from my last (re)post

Recognize this guy?

Field Marshall Lord Kitchener’s face and pointing finger proclaiming ...

‘Your country needs YOU’

And this woman?

You’ll almost certainly be familiar with the former image and accompanying slogan – or variations on it, depending on your geographical location. Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener – for it is he – was the face of military recruitment during the WW1 campaign of a century ago. You might be forgiven for unfamiliarity with the second image: Edith Cavell was a Norfolk-born nurse who served in Belgium during that conflict; and her most oft-repeated quote ‘I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone’. Kitchener died June 5, 1916, on a boat sunk by a German mine off The Orkney Islands;  Cavell on October12, 1915 by Nazi firing squad. That which connects the pair – their respective rôles in that historic conflict aside and their deaths, both at the hands of the same ‘enemy’- to the aforementioned – in the Week Woman post – Criado-Perez campaign is their competition in a more modern conflict; in recognition for posterity via the medium of legal tender in the UK. started by Sioned-Mair Richards. In short, The UK Treasury wants to put Kitchener on a commemorative £2 coin; Richards nominates Cavell. Criado-Perez‘s successful campaign for women – or at least, a woman – to be represented on British currency was actioned via Change.org.

Petitions launched via that platform have helped to achieve positive action in social justice, education and public awareness, including:

Achieving legal aid for the inquest into the death of Cherry Groce, fatally injured during the ’85 Brixton riots

Keeping Mary Seacole on the National (educational) Curriculum in the UK

Pressing for a public enquiry into the late MP, Cyril Smith’s historical sexual abuse of vulnerable young boys

Richards‘ campaign deserves to succeed too: in a real sense it’s only a coin (or note) but implicit in the public support for the figure that we choose to commemorate the war that, 100 years ago failed to end all war is our hope – or lack of – that one day it might end. That one day, beginning today, we might have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone. If Criado-Perez‘ experience is anything to go by, I fear for Richards‘ treatment via social media. The only consolation is that any vindictiveness is in exponential relation to the importance of the values of their actions. For every 100 detractors, the lives of 1000,000s stand to be improved by the elimination of the brutal, patriarchal conventions that blight so many lives.

Is patriotism enough, or can we do better?

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