Personal and Dignified

By Duncan Gordon, SCCR Trainer


Remembrance Day sees millions of people thinking of loved ones and of those who have fallen in the great wars and subsequent conflicts. As an ex-serviceman, who signed up as a ‘boy’ soldier at 16 going on 17 years old, I think of all the boy soldiers some as young as 14, who joined up in the great wars and who died as boy soldiers – those brave, dare I say fool hardy and misguided boys who, for some were looking for excitement, adventure and danger while others I suspect joined up out of duty. For me it was the former, I was looking for an escape that excitement, a new life. I never thought about my own mortality at 16, I did not care whether I grew old, as I imagine did some of those boys who went to war.

I listened to an old soldier speaking on the radio, in a tired and reflective voice he recalls when he joined up as a young man and him and his mates wanted to fight to change the world (for the good). He remembered that within a very short time changing the world was far from his mind, his main motivation for fighting was survival. He remembered the horrors of war, his experience of entering Belsen Concentration camp and seeing its survivors, memories that haunt him to this day. The old soldier concluded that in war there are no winners.

I trained for war; I went on large scale exercises in Europe along with other countries to practice for war, but I imagine that no amount of training or practice readies you for the trauma of the real thing, as we are seeing now of service personnel coming back from active service.

I also heard and agree with this statement that remembering should be a personal and dignified activity, without judgement or recourse: they fought for a right to freedom and that includes choice.

I am still involved in conflict, the context however is very different as I work to improve relationships and lives within families. Making them aware that conflict is a normal part of family life, that due to all the internal and external influences interacting within the family, conflict can escalate quickly and become destructive, leading to relationship breakdowns, and again – no winners.

Going back to basics; being open to understanding relationships better, being proactive and responding more compassionately can prevent, de-escalate and even improve relationships within families and therefore improve lives. I read that love, recognition and praise are what we crave from family and in other intimate relationships and I believe if received, these elements underpin confidence, competence and resilience within the person.

On this day of remembrance value the relationships you have and reflect on those who have fallen and the relationships that were lost.


Remember me
Duty called and I went to war
Though I’d never fired a gun before
I paid the price for your new day
As all my dreams were blown away

Harry Riley (A poem for Armistice Day)

Duncan Gordon, SCCR Trainer

Duncan is a qualified trainer and has worked in a variety of roles within the third sector for many years. As the SCCR’s Trainer, Duncan delivers Conflict Resolution training to those who work with young people and families and to young people and families across Scotland.

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