September 30th – If only we knew



On this day in 1938 the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain returned from a crisis conference in Munich. The picture is indelibly printed in the 20th Century mind of our nation, of its Prime Minister smiling, waiving a scrap of paper, surrounded by cheering, relieved crowds of people, at the airport and announcing that he had in his hand the signature of Herr Hitler which guaranteed ‘Peace in our time’. Who wouldn’t cheer at that? That was in 1938. Less than a year later the same Prime Minister was to announce to the nation on the B.B.C. that “this country is at war with Germany”, for on September 1st 1939 Hitler’s Nazi Panza divisions smashed into Poland, which tried to resist, but heroic cavalry with swords, was no match for armed columns and one million trained and equipped German storm troops.
The jubilation which greeted Chamberlain’s promise of ‘Peace in our time’ was premature, when he returned from that Munich summit meeting where M. Edouard Daladier, Premier of France, Benito Mussolini of Italy and Adolph Hitler, Chancellor of Germany, had resolved the Czechoslovakia crisis, on paper, or so it seemed. “Peace with honour” they called it. But to the Czechs it was treachery – giving up their national boundaries on Hitler’s word that this would be his last territorial demand.
The whole history of political appeasing of vicious dictators is so obviously appallingly short-sighted – so wrong, that many thoughtful folk have re-evaluated Chamberlain’s decision – not as mere capitulation to brute force, but as a ploy to buy a little time in which to begin to get a nation, totally disarmed and vulnerable, into some state of readiness for the inevitable conflict of war. Perhaps the story behind the picture of Chamberlain waving his paper as a peace treaty, on this day in 1938, was a little more complicated and subtle than popular opinion has supposed.
I wonder how many public impressions of me and of you have been mistaken, especially when we muse ‘If only they knew the whole story’ which, of course, will never be told to them. Ponder Jeremiah’s words… “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace’. And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you’. But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? Jeremiah 23:16-18
A Prayer:
From believing our desires, crying “Peace, peace when there is no peace”, from putting our trust in princes and war lords, and from cowardice before all bullies, dear Lord deliver us, your shallow people.
Now read Isaiah Chapter 31.

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Thought 4 The Day

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