Truths of Our Wars

11 November 2018 7 am

Four hours before The Din of The Armistice.
A dreadful silence.
A dreadful, dreadful silence.
Four long years of dreadful silence.
An English century of dreadful, dreadful silence.
This dreadful silence prevails amidst and above the Armistice Day racket
pervading our airwaves this day.
A dreadful silence punctuates the words of our broadcasters with horror.
It will do the same to the peels of our church bells and the banging of
“peace pots” at 11 am today.
The early morning roar of the jets across the bay is a dreadful silence.
My every breath is a dreadful silence of atoms of burned fossils, of Baring
Head air at 400 parts per million and the pink fog of Mesopotamian
children vaporized in our awful oil play.
The dawning sun does not care about the dreadful silence. Physics is just
what it is.
However the ti kouka leaves stand stiff, bayonets at ready, against the
glinting waves of the polished-steel grey bay.
The hulk of Peter Jackson’s war machine looms malevolent in the murk
and the blood-red shroud of Wellington Airport carpark is the only colour.
A hundred years of dreadful silence. The English hatred of the Hague
Peace Conventions fills the void. Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty,
supercharging warfare with the vast potential of mineral oil…
Let the church bells ring to a dreadful truth: one hundred years of blood
spilt in vain for vanity and that oil is now nought but poison.
Paleogene. Permian. Devonian. Early Carboniferous. Cambrian.
Cretaceous. Ordovician. Jurassic. Triassic... eons of Earth life burned in
my lifetime.
No amount of Quantitative Easing (Money Printing) and Fracking can
repair the sustaining potential of the lost vales of shale. So soon the
straining pumps of the prairies will gasp their last and we will be
swallowed in the horrors of our dreadful silence of the truth.

Note for webpage

Most days I am blasted awake by the early morning rush hour of jets leaving Wellington Airport, which is dimly visible on the other side of the bay in the photo. Today is no exception and all my plans for the day vanish when I turn on RNZ radio, England’s prime radio broadcasting station here in the South Pacific. The 7 am host announces what is effectively yet a another morning of programmes promoting warfare and it occurs to me that he and his colleagues have learned nothing of the truth in four years of intense media discourse about 1814-18 “The War to End All Wars”.
My mum was “war bride” from London, which is why I exist. One the last things she said to me in 2012 as she lay dying was, “I have always tried to speak the truth best I could, even if people sometimes hated me for it, and I tried to bring you all up to speak the truth too.”
It is in this spirit I compose and send the above letter to RNZ with the following explanation.

Explanatory Note to RNZ

Hello Wallace and RNZ
I could not bloody bear anymore of RNZ’s warmongering by 7.05. So I
turned you off and instead wrote a few reflections on this past four
dreadful years. Here they are. I am diplopic and so struggle to even read
what I write. Perhaps the attached photo of my dawn on 2018 Armistice
Day will help.

I could not and would not do your job today for all the money on the
planet. I just could not maintain the mandatory dreadful silence.

I still recall sitting by my grandfather and listening to him pant and
wheeze. He traveled from New Zealand to fight for the English Empire and
attributed his life-long struggles to breath to inhaling the poisonous gases
used in the trench warfare in Europe.

My father also traveled from New Zealand and fought in the RAF Bomber
Command. All I knew as a kid is that he maintained a dark silence about
some terrible experience. Later in his life he pulled out his war medals
and began to attend ANZAC. However in 2014 he became so disgusted at
the warmongering and lies of the ANZAC centenary frenzy that he hid
them out of sight under his jacket on ANZAC Day in 2015 when I took him
out to lunch.

Dad had been a radio man all his 90 years back to the days of crystal
sets. He never tuned away from Radio New Zealand and its predecessors
in all those decades. (Grandad tried to make a living selling radios
through The Depression). However in 2015 he turned off RNZ National in
disgust, hid his medals and said “Finished with the lot!”.

A few days after 2015 ANZAC Day his health suddenly failed, he became
more or less bedridden and he died in October. I had put up on the wall of
his bedroom a montage of his life. One of his last acts was to open one
eye and point to a photo of him and another Bomber Command trainee.
“You know,” he said to me, “you know I fought in the war eh” He said the
man’s name very clearly and resumed his silence for another few hours,
eyes closed.

Radio had been his essential companion all those years and it broke me
up that when he only had hearing left in the long bedridden hours of his
life. RNZ was no longer there for him. When I asked if he listened to
National Radio any more he would just answer my question with a abrupt
dismissive, irritated wave of his arm.
I think I understand his response. Increasingly I feel RNZ fails me too. In
particular there is nothing worse than waking in the night and tuning into
yet another terrible BBC rebroadcast and knowing its dreadful silence
about the horrible truth of our history.
Below are my reflections this morning.

Written in kindness and not grammar checked

Dave McArthur