Why I don’t wear a poppy

This will make me unpopular but here goes:

Wearing a poppy is supposed to signify your respect for those who have given their lives (or parts of their bodies) in armed conflicts, starting with the ‘Great War’ of the early twentieth century. It has since spread in its significance to encompass all wars (and more recently all nations), making it more relevent to the people of today. The soldiers who fought in those battles and wars were fighting and giving the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, so that we may benefit from the freedoms we currently enjoy. I am incredibly grateful to them, the world would be a far worse place without the selfless patriotism shown by generations of servicemen & women throughout history. The respect and reverence I feel toward them should not be questioned while reading this piece, it is about something very different.

In recent years, I have noticed increasing pressure on all high-profile public figures to wear a poppy. It is no longer a choice for anyone pictured in the media, from politicians to footballers, a poppy is now part of your uniform during the build up to Remembrance Sunday/11th November. Not wearing it is not an option unless you want to be roundly lambasted from all sides, judged by people who presume that not wearing a charitable symbol signifies your hatred for the country of your birth. I am told repeatedly how those men died for my freedom. What is this freedom if it does not include the right of choice over whether or not to wear a poppy? The wearing of a poppy has evolved from its original meaning (as stated above) to the modern symbol which appears to be used as a banner to proclaim your essential ‘goodness’, not wearing one is tantamount to having ‘Evil’ tattooed across your forehead.

The poppy appeal is a charity like many others. There are good reasons for giving to it, there are also good reasons for giving to others. Why should this one charity be singled out for universal donations at the expense of others? What business is it of anyone who and what I give money to? Why should I feel pressurised into donating? This is not how charity should be.

Charitable gifts should not be used to publicise your morality, they are a gift. A gift given to your chosen charity is to help with their cause. A donation is a one-way transaction, it is its own reward. If it is given openly, for all to see, it proves nothing. Anonymous philanthropy is the only morally correct form. That is not to say that one cannot do good when one’s name is connected with a charity but it does mean that the donor is also there to receive a benefit from the transaction. It is no longer a true donation, the donor is buying moral capital by paying for other people’s lives to be improved. Not all bad but certainly not all good.

My charitable donations are a private, not public matter. My choice of whether to donate and how much is of no concern to anyone but me.

Thanks for Reading

Rowan

All comments are welcome, I’ll answer as many as I can.

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