Remember, remember the fifth of November… its Bonfire night…. which means we celebrate the burning of a “terrorist”. I imagine that most people would find this concept rather odd in 2015, some 410 years after the failed gunpowder plot, we continue to celebrate the foiling of the plot to blow up Parliament and the capture, torture and execution of its participants. In reality it is of course, just something of an excuse to have a communal get together on a cold November night, warm ourselves beside a large fire and gaze at fireworks. I don’t know anyone that would seriously suggest that this is indeed a celebration of our “democracy” or that we celebrate the torture and execution of “villains”.
As a child, I hadn’t given much thought to the historical evidence about Guy Fawkes and just took it as it is, a slightly odd custom, that’s a bit of fun. I was challenged by my own views, when my daughters attended a catholic school who took quite a different position to the historical events. To my shame, I hadn’t really considered the impact, despite being someone who holds no grudge against catholics and was always perplexed by the troubles in Northern Ireland and how two groups both claiming to be christian could be so violently opposing.
Songs of Innocence
As a teenager I grew up baffled by current war – I had a historical context of the two world wars, with family members in each, yet saw this as history, something that I am thankful that we “won”. Much like many teenage boys I consumed a plethora of action and war movies, but found myself siding with the underdog, a natural step being to support those that required help against bullies, which musically as a teenager located a natural home in U2 who sang of the contradictions and struggles of faith and growing up in Ireland with songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “I will Follow”, “Gloria” and “Pride”.
I grew up with their music, encouraged to confront injustice, however uncomfortable and close to home. I’m told that U2 and Bono in particular is one of those Marmite types – love them or hate them. I have never really understood the complaints of those that dislike U2, but certainly could agree that celebrity multimillionaires telling everyone else what to do with their time and money was perhaps irksome. Yet in all my time as a fan, I never had the sense that I was being told what to think, feel or do… but rather to bring “it” to a visual and musical dynamic place.
U2 @ O2 #U2ieTour
So this week, I was again seeing my favourite band. This time at the O2 (a perfect venue for sound distortion). The crowd was predominantly made up of my own generation with very few from my children’s. Balding heads in their thousands gathered to sing and… well take photos. As ever, it was a visual feast, with prose and technology neatly juxtaposed…. in screen, on-screen, in the flesh. Rebooted versions of “October” set against video feed of a bombed Syrian city, “Pride” reworked lines to recall the image of the child refugee washed up on the beach and “Bullet in the Blue Sky” a personal confrontation about the apparent contradictions Bono faces as challenged to remember his roots and the glaring problem with his call to see the fighter planes, when he travels in private planes…. and a reflection of a childhood growing up with marches, bombings and walls…. yet all the time holding to the promise that peace can be achieved and that compromise is the braver move, with Ireland now being a real example of peace being achieved.
Perhaps a lot to digest on Bonfire night, but as the whiff of gunpowder lingers I will continue to reflect on the reality that fireworks are the only delightful use of gunpowder. As for U2, well much like Bonfire night, I’m still left with a warm glow. If you wish to find out about their world tour… click here for the link…… what has this got to do with financial planning? well, that the firm is shaped from my values of fairness and struggles with injustice, greed and the benefits of lucky geography… in one sense both everything and nothing… with or without you.
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