Tuesday 5 August 2014

World War 1

   How must it have been 100 years ago when Britain joined World War 1? Children probably wouldn't have understood, but what of the adults? I've experienced enough in my life to know that I'm the kind to be paralysed by fear, and it is not a pleasant experience. Admittedly those were times when I was at risk, but what about war? When I wouldn't be a prime target but rather potentially just a statistic?

   I worry about everything going on in the world right now - I'm quite sure many do - but I'm lucky enough at the moment that my country isn't involved enough for my home to be at risk. But when Britain went to war 100 years ago with an enemy who had the same technological capabilities as we did, it must have been a frightening experience for everyone. The soldiers go without saying, and while it's a shame they had to die, at least they succeeded in the end. But the very fact that the enemy possessed similar technology is the most frightening part, because the odds of success are far more balanced for both sides.

   The lights of England have gone off for an hour tonight from 10pm to mark the moment we officially joined the war, and I write this originally the old fashioned way and by candlelight.
   One hundred years ago I would be shaking in my bed. I would be petrified. What would happen to me? What would happen to my family? My country? My future? My children's future - assuming I had a future that lasted long enough to have them?
   During World War 2 a bomb fell into my great grandmother's house. It didn't go off - if it had I certainly wouldn't be here right now. In fact, she still has the damned thing! So while I would like to say 'what are the odds that I'd have been directly affected during the war,' the question has been answered even before I could ask it.
   I dare say everyone was affected. I expect everyone knew someone who died, or knew someone who knew someone who died, be it on the battle field or on home ground, soldier or civilian.
   But 'Keep Calm and Carry On', a British slogan that came about during the 2nd World War. And keep calm and carry on we did. But I can't see how. I try to tell myself that it isn't because I'm spoilt that I wouldn't be able to cope, that I'm somehow more protected than we were 100 years ago, but rather that it's how many people felt, my age, under and over. How can you keep calm and carry on when bombs are falling around you? When 16 year olds are being shipped out to war, staring death in the face at far too young an age while you're at home trying to make ends meet.
   I watch Dad's Army and I hope deeply that people were able to keep so cheerful. It was a comedy show, yes, but at the same time people still had to find food, they still had to live, and they were ingenious in how they went about it. How would we ever cope on rations now? Drawing lines down the back of your legs to look like stocking seams? And I say this knowing that it is fuelled by the fact that, these days, we're spoilt. If we were thrown back and told to survive in that situation given everything we have now I think we'd have a harder time of coping.

   I fear for World War 3. After all, I doubt anyone expected World War 2 to happen so soon after World War 1 ended. A mere 21 years later. How must that have felt? To survive the first war that involved many people from all over the globe with equal or near-equal technology, and then to have to go through it all again so soon?
   World War 3 will happen. Where opinions exist there will be conflict, and these conflicts can happen amongst a small group of high school friends, and it can happen between nation leaders. And that's scary. It takes two people to argue, but it only takes one person to take things too far. And it's an easy thing to say "make sure you're not that one person", but we can only ensure that of ourselves if we want to. And not everyone wants to.

   I suppose, however, I'll end my tired ramblings on that note anyway: make sure that you are not that one person to take things too far. Whether you're in high school or a nation leader (though I find it unlikely that a nation leader would be reading this), just make sure you don't take anything too far, even if you only ensure that for your own sake. All actions have consequences, be they good or bad and regardless of whose favour they work in. 


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