VE Day and easing COVID restrictions in some countries, has made me reflect on what I’ve learned about myself and how I may have responded to WW2.
I had never lived under threat before COVID. The closest I’d come was when I imagined what I’d do if I was alive in WW2. In my imagination I was heroic. I enlisted when war was declared, led from the front and fearlessly cared for my men. I imagined that I’d be a Major Dick Winters.
My response to COVID 19 shattered that illusion. I would have fallen to bits on 3rd September 1939. I would have been inconsolable if I was the mother of a teenage son. If I had been younger, I would have shut myself off until I was called up. In short, COVID 19 taught me that when my life and those whom I love are under threat, I get swept away on a tsunami of anxiety. What it also taught me was that instincts could be reversed. That the right words, spoken by the right person at the right time can convert fear and anxiety into purpose and resolve. Britain had two such people on 3rd September, Winston Churchill and King George VI. On that day, my parents and grandparents heard the King say, “For the sake of all that we ourselves hold dear, and of the world’s order and peace, it is unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge. It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home and my peoples across the seas, who will make our cause their own. I ask them to stand calm, and firm and united in this time of trial. The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead and the war can no longer be confined to the battlefield… If one and all keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God’s help, we shall prevail.”
On 5th April 2020, I heard his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II,say of COVID 19, “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge… And those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future.. While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”
Those words came at the right time from the right person. They inspired me to transform my anxiety into positive action. To change my focus from inward to outward and consider what I could do to help. I decided I could try to boost morale by writing.
As the world takes hesitant steps towards a limited return to normal, I’m considering how I could take pride in how I responded to the challenge.
Would I take pride if I ignore the global death toll and collapsing economies and return to my old normal?
My old normal involved making choices which, potentially, harmed my fellow human beings. Pre-COVID, I could justify it by saying, there are many links in the causation chain, we are all responsible, I was only link A. If my neighbour suffers it’s not my fault, it was due to link X Y or Z.
I can’t do that anymore because COVID 19 has neatly reduced the chain of causation to two links, A and B, me and my neighbour. We have each others lives in our hands. If we don’t act responsibly and selflessly to preserve the other than we could end each other’s lives. So COVID 19 asks us a very simple question, have you got what it takes to preserve your fellow human being?
If the answer to that is yes. The next question could be, should I go further? Should I ask myself, does my lifestyle reduce his quality of life? Should I try to improve his standard of living, comfort or security?
Should I seek to protect and preserve our shared dwelling place, Planet Earth?
Ultimately, it’s up to me, but I do want to take pride in how I responded to COVID. I want to look back and be able to say, 2020 was the year I chose to stop turning a blind eye and to start thinking how my actions impact my neighbour.
Time to change gear. I love this poem. It had me laughing out loud. I hope you enjoy it and I’ll see you again next Friday 22nd May with a shorter blog. In the meantime, take care and stay safe.
‘An Ode to Fifty Shades of Grey’
The missus bought a Paperback
down Shepton, Saturday,
I had a look in her bag;
…T’was “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
Well I just left her to it,
…At ten I went to bed.
An hour later she appeared;
The sight filled me with dread…
In her left hand she held a rope;
And in her right a whip!
She threw them down on the floor,
And then began to strip.
Well fifty years or so ago;
I might have had a peek;
But Mabel hasn’t weathered well;
She’s eighty four next week.
Watching Mabel bump and grind;
Could not have been much grimmer.
Things then went from bad to worse;
She toppled off her Zimmer!
She struggled up upon her feet;
A couple minutes later;
She put her teeth back in and said…
I must dominate her!!
Now if you knew our Mabel,
You’d see just why I spluttered,
I’d spent two months in traction
For the last complaint I’d muttered.
She stood there nude, naked like;
Bent forward just a bit ….
I thought oh well, what the hell,
and stood on her left tit!
Mabel screamed, her teeth shot out;
My god what had I done!?
She moaned and groaned then shouted out:
“Step on the other one!”
Well readers, I can’t tell no more;
About what occurred that day.
Suffice to say my jet black hair,
Turned fifty shades of Grey.
by John Summers
With love from Singapore.