And I think to myself by Trevor Plumbly
….What a wonderful world!
As we head into a new year, it’s a healthy time to look back as well as forward. Being born during the second world war, I was educated to believe that England was the haven of fair play as well as invincible.
The books and comics turned war into an adventure playground with a simple formula: the villains were mainly fat or ugly Germans and the good guys clean shaven, rakish Brits who largely did the biz single handed. War at that level was fun, only the baddies got seriously wounded and, even if captured, our chaps filled pages with ingenious escapes. The reality of the crippled, the insane and fatherless was simply buried by the media in the national euphoria of victory; at last we had a war to end wars, even the ensuing stupidity of Korea and Vietnam weren’t regarded as a British problem.
Long hair and attitude
For politicians, the creeping virus of freedom of expression became a serious problem in the middle 60s: suddenly, willing conscripts were getting replaced by long-haired young men asking, ‘Why should I?’ Hordes protested and a lot just refused to take part. At last it seemed as if the powers that be accepted that wars weren’t a necessary function in life, even the nuclear stuff got put into cupboards and some sort of detente existed between the big boys.
Through rheumy eyes
That, of course, was then, now I’m 75 and pretty glad of it; looking back I remember far gentler times than those facing my grandsons. Their world will be uncertain; with the possibility that one half-mad leader or another will decide that threats and talks simply aren’t enough like rampant zealots convinced that killing themselves and hundreds of innocents proves a valid religious point. Climate change, water quality protection and plastic pollution have all arrived courtesy of our own complacency and greed and that of the various agencies we charged to protect us. This generation will need to address all those problems and more. Protest these days seems a bit tame when you look at what it achieved in the 20th Century. The Suffragette movement gained votes and social status for women. The incredible Civil Rights Movement in America and the fall of Apartheid in South Africa produced changes only huge personal commitment could have forged. That, of course, won’t work today; this world demands mass rather than individual conscience, tomorrow’s human drones may well have to search a device to understand morality and personal commitment. Like all grandparents, I wish them everything in the world except, please, uniforms and guns.