Thursday, 9 October 2014

We Can't Compare

I should really stay off the internet until I've done my writing for the day. I think, I'll just pop on and see if any of the blogs I follow have interesting updates, maybe browse the news quickly (usually not since that can be a less-than-inspiring way to start the day). Skimming the various blogs/pages I like to follow can take as little as five minutes.

Unless, I find something interesting. Like today...

Reading a post by A Writer's Notepad, I came to Nina Mishkin's The Getting Old Blog. Particularly, the following posts:

My Three Nazis

Hitler's Lampshades

These come from Nina's personal experiences and are worth reading for anyone with even a passing interest in WWII or that period in history. If you're not interested in WWII you might be after reading them. Here are some things that came to my mind as I read:

2001-2014: Some have friends and family who have gone overseas (or have gone themselves). This is scary because those who go might get hurt or killed. They might have an experience that leaves them with psychological scars that can never be fully healed.

WWII: Everyone either goes overseas or has loved ones who do. Everyone. Loved ones are sent away with the knowledge they probably will be hurt or killed. Physiological scars? All but guaranteed.

2001-2014: Trans-continental communication includes regular phone calls, skype, email.

WWII: Trans-continental communication includes heavily-censored letters that take weeks to travel back and forth.

2001-2014: The Towers fell. Fear of terrorism rose. Someone might plant a bomb in a subway, or an office building, or a school.

WWII: You might have to drop everything in the middle of dinner and hide in the basement while squadrons of planes bomb the shit out of entire city blocks. Repeatedly. At eight years old, your're put on a train, alone, with a suitcase and an ID tag strung around your neck. You're on your way to live with strangers because it's not safe to stay home with your parents. You ask, but no one will tell you when you will be coming back.

2001-2014: Your friend was searched or arrested at the airport because he has an Arab name.

WWII: The quiet old woman living next door, who you see working in the garden everyday as you get home from school, is just gone one day. When you ask where she went you're told, She was Japanese. Like that explains things.

I graduated from Royal Military College (of Canada) in 2004. A couple of weeks ago was my 10-year class reunion. There were a few people conspicuously absent (aside from those who had chosen not to come). I can't help but wonder, though, what would a 10-year reunion have been like in the early 50s, at any college--military or not--or any high school across Canada, the US, or Britain (France, Poland, Germany, or Japan for that matter). How many of them were missing?

The world of my generation cannot be compared to that of our grandparents. There's Afghanistan and Iraq, al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the media leading us to believe that the world is a much scarier place than it used to be. But it isn't. It was always scary, often scarier.

Will generations younger than mine give more than passing thought to events like the Holocaust?  I hear about people who deny the Holocaust happened and think, how is that possible? Of course it was real. Aside from all the pictures and stories, look at all the real people with the scars and serial numbers still tattooed on their bodies. But there aren't may of these people left. If we can deny the reality of it with some of them still here, how easy will it be to ignore those events once they're all gone?

And, unfortunately, when they were here they didn't talk about it.

I understand why they didn't, but so many from my grandparents' generation never shared with their children or grandchildren what they were thinking and feeling when these events transpired in the world. There are movies and history books, but it's less real to us than it was to them. It will be even less real to the next generation. There's conflict in the world now too. So we think we get it. But we don't. And, it seems every year I attend a ceremony, Remembrance Day focuses more and more on Afghanistan and Iraq and less and less on WWI and WWII. The past is being overshadowed by the present--odd phenomenon for a day of 'remembrance'.

Not to make light of current events, but every time and place is unique. When the experience is lost, it's gone for good. Nina is about a decade younger than my grandparents, but she was around during WWII and I'm glad she shared some of her stories. They make that time and place a little more real to those of us who don't remember it first hand. She also makes a good point with Two Days in August--Don't forget to consider what the world looks like from someone else's point of view.

...Next thing I know, it's mid afternoon and I haven't written a word of the novel I'm so close to finishing (the first draft anyway) or even done the dishes. Oh well,  I'll call it time well spent (this time).


  1. Thanks so much for the three ping backs, K. It's great when posts written so many months ago come to light again! :-D

  2. I love the way you think--the way you write --Dianne

  3. Thanks, Dianne. I appreciate you taking the time to read it.