Date: 10th November 2018 at 6:02pm
Written by:

Tomorrow, the old routine.

And I want our fans to follow it, unfailingly.

I want them to do it for many reasons, but chief amongst them is that it will give nobody a chance to moan.

And if you think that’s a complete distortion of what the silence is about then I agree wholeheartedly. But all I’m doing here is taking something that’s already completely warped and driving it towards its natural conclusion.

I won’t even pretend otherwise any longer.

Besides, to me, the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I is something to commemorate.

I would keep my mouth shut and close my eyes for sixty seconds if I was at Livingston tomorrow.

I would do that in contemplation of the utter waste of life that war was, on all sides.

And the soldiers involved in the conflict knew it too. German officers wrote poems about the courageous men their own were fighting against, although they had a less complimentary view of their fellow commanders. The whole war was just a tragedy; the aftermath was even worse.

Because the victors were so greedy with power and triumph that they imposed crippling sanctions and humiliation on the defeated foe, and thus created the perfect conditions for the rise of fascism. Within 20 years, a frustrated and still bitter Germany, led by an oddball Austrian who had fought in the trenches for his adopted homeland in that conflict, was launching another war, and he would drag much of the whole world into the abyss with him.

Commemorating the First World War as some kind of example of British exceptionalism would be pointless.

Nothing positive came from that conflict.

It had no legacy beyond the role in played in starting the next one.

Those who perished didn’t fight or die for our freedoms or anything like that; they died because national governments ruled by small-minded men had entered into stupid treaties which they felt they had to adhere to even if it meant war.

They feared losing face and looking weak more than the dreadful consequences of sending a generation of kids off to fight and die.

You can surmise how ludicrous it all was by what Crown Prince Wilhelm, of Germany, told an American reporter in 1914, after they had failed to conquer France quickly enough to avoid a two-front war. “We have lost the war,” he said. “It will go on for a long time but lost it is already.” And he was right. Hitler actually managed to conquer France and win the War in the West decisively, but he was unable to tame Russia and eventually faced the same strategic situation.

There was nothing glorious about any of it.

Remembrance Day is a monument to folly.

Yet other follies were to follow, including the modern day disgrace of Iraq.

Britain chooses to venerate war rather than turn away from it, as demonstrated in the way the poppy has drifted away from being one that commemorates the sacrifices of the two World Wars into something that glorifies militarism and encourages “patriotic” fervour.

Look, we all know this is something people do out of habit, not out of choice.

Most people who stood in silence around the country today were fiddling with their phones, or they had their minds on Sunday dinner or why certain players weren’t playing or why others were. Few minds anywhere were on the dreadful reality of The Somme.

Remembrance is supposed to be personal, respectful, something done voluntarily if it is to have any meaning. Instead it is enforced, and that strips everything positive from it and distorts the ideals those who fought and died were allegedly over there for in the first place.

So let’s accept that first and foremost. Let’s accept that most people who keep their mouths shut for those 60 seconds do so for a number of reasons, and that only a small minority actually consider the bigger picture and the sweep of history in that minute.

What I’m saying is that if you’re one of the people going to the game tomorrow, find your own reason and observe sixty seconds of silence.

This is not poppies on the famous club shirt, right? This is not about enforced conformity or the spectacle of militarism. This is about respect, and that goes beyond asking anyone to keep schtum for those who died in a war that’s been over for 100 years.

Observe the silence.

I don’t care why you do it and nor will anybody else.

Take a minute to go over your shopping list, or pull out your receipts and do a quick count up of whether or not the smirking clown behind the bar really did do you out of two quid with the last round. Think about the girlfriend you forgot to phone this morning and make a mental note to buy her some flowers. Consider how your living room will look with new wallpaper up. Take the minute and say a prayer for the planet as we slowly suffocate it. Take it and pray that we’re sitting at the top of the league when the game ends, or that Edouard doesn’t get injured. Let your mind wander to the holiday you’ve planned for next week, or let it linger on the one you’ve come back from. On the car you want to buy or the one you’re trying to sell.

Or look around at the fans around you, and you’ll see that some of them are remembering for the right reasons, thinking over the great grandparents they never got to meet but who served and came back home, or who’s lives where left over there on the killing fields … or perhaps those who played for our club and who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Do it for them.

Do it out of respect for your fellow fans.

It doesn’t matter what you think of it personally; put that aside for one minute and show solidarity.

And if you’re not capable of that, do it for the club.

They’ve asked everyone to observe this, so really, to refuse is to stick two fingers up to them.

Do it so that we don’t have to read about your moronic behaviour in the papers for a week, so that we don’t have to be tainted by your appalling ignorance and intolerance and self-indulgence.

Because if the act of silence has come to mean less and less, those who want to mount some pitiful protest are even more ridiculous.

That achieves nothing except to draw attention to how staggeringly without morals some people are, whatever they might kid themselves, whatever colours they might wear.

If you’re one of those people, already determined that you won’t be “forced” to shut up, one of that small number of selfish arseholes who thinks the stupid ideas in their own head over-ride one minute of respect for the dead, for their fellow supporters, for the club and for decency itself … stay away from the ground, alright?

Have your protest in the pub toilet, or in the street.

But don’t pretend, in doing so, that you represent anybody but yourselves.

There’s an expression I’m sure you’ve heard before; not in my name.

And not in Celtic’s name either.

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