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For love of a mountain flower

Canadian actor Christopher Plummer and British actress Julie Andrews helped to create the film version of the Sound of Music, which remains popular forty years after it was released. Julie Andrews has said that Plummer gave the character of Captain von Trapp more depth and reduced the story’s treacle. The seven child actors are not British, but in real life the mother of the von Trapp children was British. Since they grew up in Austria, it was Austria they loved.

You can hear Edelweiss, the song about the mountain flower, sung here by the Captain (Maria joins him at the end). Despite the slightly odd backdrop of scenes created by a YouTube auteur, the song conveys von Trapp's deep love for his country and his sublimated love for his children and Maria in his love for the small flower.

That love feels true to me and to many other people. We know what it is to love a particular thing – the curve of a small trout stream beyond St Cross, a dear, old friend, the happiness of muddy children trooping inside the house. We love particular things – particular people, particular places, particular countries. This does not make us unfriendly to other people or other countries. We may grow to like them very much. (In my mind I still return to an old villa standing among olive trees outside San Gimignano.) With enough time, we may even cherish them.

It was not wrong that Captain von Trapp loved Austria. His love did not create Nazi Austria. The idea that our love for a particular country must be corrected by becoming a love for the amorphous notion of a 27-country European Union may create tyranny but it will not prevent war. War is the result of fear and greed, not love.

Different sorts of love inspired these heroes, but it was always love that inspired them.