When I were a lad
A friend shared this on Facebook, and I’m sharing it too, there, and here. Because it matters. It raises a question that has been bothering me since this manufactured hysteria over the coronavirus started. It also raises darker questions, but those are for another day, or for history to examine. For now, this is a reminder of what we have – and what we lost.
I talked with a man today, an older gentleman in his late 80’s. I asked him if there was anything I can get him while this Coronavirus scare was gripping Britain.
He simply smiled, looked away, and said:
“Let me tell you what I need! I need to believe, at some point, in this country my generation fought for. I need to believe this nation we handed safely to our children and their children.
I need to know this generation will quit being a bunch of sissies – that they respect what they’ve been given – that they’ve earned what others sacrificed for.”
I wasn’t sure where the conversation was going or if it was going anywhere at all. So, I sat there, quietly observing.
“You know, I was a little boy during WWII. Those were scary days. We didn’t know if we were going to be speaking English, German or Japanese at the end of the war. There was no certainty, no guarantees like Brits enjoy today.
And no home went without sacrifice or loss. Every house, up and down every street, had someone in harm’s way. Maybe their Daddy was a soldier; maybe their son was a sailor, perhaps it was an uncle. Sometimes it was the whole damn family: fathers, sons, uncles.
Having someone, you love, sent off to war…it wasn’t less frightening than it is today. It was scary as Hell. If anything, it was more frightening. We didn’t have battlefront news. We didn’t have email or mobile phones. You sent them away, and you hoped, you prayed. You may not hear from them for months, if ever. Sometimes a mother was getting her son’s letters the same day Dad was comforting her over their child’s death.
And we sacrificed. You couldn’t buy many items, and everything was rationed. You were only allowed so much milk per month, only so much bread, toilet paper. EVERYTHING was restricted for the war effort. And what you weren’t using, what you didn’t need, things you threw away, they were saved and sorted for the war effort. My generation was the original recycling movement in Britain.
And we had viruses back then too, dangerous infections; illnesses like polio, measles, and such. It was nothing to walk to school and pass a house or two that was quarantined. We didn’t shut down our schools; we didn’t shut down our cities, we carried on, without masks, without hand sanitizer. And do you know what? We persevered. We overcame. We didn’t attack our PM we came together. We rallied around the flag for the war. Thick or thin, we were in it to win it.
And we would lose more boys in an hour of combat than we lose in entire wars today.”
He slowly looked away again. Maybe I saw a small tear in the corner of his eye. Then he continued:
“Today’s kids don’t know sacrifice. They think sacrifice is not having coverage on their phone while they freely drive across the country. Today’s kids are selfish and spoiled. In my generation, we looked out for our elders. We helped out with single moms whose husbands were either at war or dead from war. Today’s kids rush the store, buying everything they can, with no concern for anyone but themselves. It’s shameful the way Brits behave these days. None of them deserves the sacrifices their granddads made.
So, no, I don’t need anything. I appreciate your offer but, I know I’ve been through worse things than this virus. But maybe I should be asking you, what can I do to help you? Do you have enough pop to get through this, enough steak? Will you be able to survive with 113 channels on your TV?”
I smiled, fighting back a tear of my own, now humbled by a man in his 80’s. All I could do was thank him for the history lesson, leave my number for emergency and leave with my ego firmly tucked up my arse.
I talked to a man today — a real man. A British man from an era long gone and forgotten. We will never understand the sacrifices. We will never fully earn their sacrifices. But we should work harder to learn about them, learn from them, to respect them.
(cite: anon/unknown, and probably repurposed. (Edited for grammar and errors.))
Notes and observations.
It should be noted that while I agree with the above in essence, I would quibble in parts.
For instance the story – which has a re-hashed, repurposed feel to it – originally had the old man “in his 80’s”, yet he’d have to be closer to or over 90 to remember that time.
As it says, “None of them deserves the sacrifices their granddads made.” Pretty sure there aren’t a lot of teenagers with grandparents in their nineties, rather that would be my generation’s grandparents, for those born in the last 30 or 40 years it would actually be their great or even great-great grandparents. (How soon ‘we’ forget, eh).
Additionally, he says, “my generation fought for.” So, if he had actually fought, he’d have had to have been at least 14 before the end of the (1939-1945) war, making him between 90 and over 95 now (in 2020).
Secondly, while as a ‘boomer’ my views of the Internet generations* (post 1990) are generally less than favourable, in must be acknowledged that old and young alike were panic buying and hoarding, fed on a media-spread gourmet diet of F.U.D.
At nearly 60, I tick the ‘at risk’ box; with a catalogue of serious health issues, I’d probably be an amuse bouche to Covid-19, a light snack before the main meal. Still, I am not worried, or fretting in the least.
Reality ‘in the trenches’ for hospital staff aside, the whole fiasco has an orchestrated feel to it. I do not underestimate the virus, but I do question the media angle. Plus it highlights humanities true ugly, savage nature, masked beneath the veneer of civility. (Also unmasked in the annual ‘Black Friday’ product scrambles!) If this is what you are like with a 2% (up to 10%) pandemic, what will you be like when the next one arrives, and it has a 40% mortality rate?
Is the threat – for those most at risk – real? Yes. Is the threat also hyped for media sensation, being manipulated for PR and promotional potential, being taken advantage of by hedge fund managers, and by wealthy government officials who – conveniently – divested and reassigned stock portfolios before the ‘threat’ became known? Also yes.
Stories abound in respected journals about with news of hundreds of millions gained, with one figure given around $440 billion being made in mere weeks – by some. E.G. The Times: Hedge funds count their profits from market rout. ‘Bets against currency and shares pay off handsomely for short sellers as panic spreads among investors’.
While the global market is hemorrhaging trillions of dollars, and will bleed trillions more, these parasites are nudging it along its self-destructive path, profiting and profiteering on the fear, uncertainly and doubt.
*(It should also be noted that it was my ‘boomer’ generation that created the Internet, that heralded and shepherded this computer-driven world we now reside in. Mea Culpa! All those jokes about ‘old people’ not understanding computers are wasted on those of us who were programming, building computers, and laying networks before many of you or even your parents were born!)