A s I began to write, my thoughts were about a recent visit we made to a primary school and met children in their very first year at school who have all the time in the world ahead of them, writes Deputy Mayor Chris Ash .
It is really great to be able to meet young children who are eager to learn about anything and everything - still ready to accept what they are told with wide eyed innocence. It makes a refreshing change from the cut and thrust and politically charged atmosphere of a council meeting .
Talking to them comes with responsibility, especially in the school environment where they seem to ask endless questions. I can’t help being a little unnerved when answering those questions honestly, but not break that magic spell that comes with the innocence they have. We owe them nothing less. The spell will be broken soon enough when they become teenagers and confused by the ways of the world, or perhaps thinking they know the ways of the world and frustrated or deflated when trying to make sense of everything and how mixed up it all is.
Approaching and answering questions might change when talking to different groups, but taking an honest approach must always be paramount . Pity many of our national leaders don’t see it that way.
In truth, I guess the idea of an idyllic childhood is a modern concept. It’s sad to think that for many, if not millions of children across the world, harsh realities hit very early on .
We need, yet lack, key leaders who we respect. We also need those leaders to earn that respect and in turn show respect. We need far more honesty and transparency , all that seems in short supply .
I also find it a little sad that some folk feel Remembrance Day and the lead up to it glorifies war. I do appreciate that many will have a different take on what remembering the 1918 Armistice is all about , and I do accept that the Remembrance services are part of the establishment and led by the establishment .
It could, I think, be easily seen as a paradox that it is established leaders that take nations to war and yet lead Remembrance services for those who gave lives to protect our established conventions.
Like so many things, the symbol of the poppy has for many taken on a different meaning to what was intended 100 years ago . Back then the poppy symbolised a new hope, a hope that it was the war to end all wars. I think to a large extent it still does. Where there was nothing but mud, death and destruction, red poppies began to grow. Nature overcame the destruction of man.
Not being religious I find the short service and the silence on Armistice Day more meaningful than a more formal, longer church service. The open air services, I think, with the unified silence in the street has a real depth .
Many will want to stop for a couple of minutes and share the simple silence for their own personal, private reflection and remembrance.
I see it as a time to reflect in our own way on the futility of war. To think about the brutality, death and suffering that war brings, and also a time to reflect in our own way on the way of the world
All these events have put me in a very reflective frame of mind .
So, I want to finish with a celebration of the diversity everyone in our city has to offer. This was beautifully demonstrated by a performance from youngsters highlighting Black History Month and a performance at the Cresset – Hamba Kamba .
A little story acted out by a wonderful group of people, overcoming their various problems to put on a great show about coming together, working together - and being together.
So lets get together and feel all-right