Everybody knows the stories about WWII – we’ve all seen the movies – and we generally think that what happened was ‘of a time’. A black and white era of seamed stockings and chain-smoking totally unlike today. We believe it is in the past and that we’ll never end up in that awful mess again. But is that the case? Here are a few things to think about –
- Germany was a democracy in 1933 when Hitler came to power. There was a great deal of civil unrest but it was still a democracy and Hitler and his party were elected in a democratic process.
- Everybody ignored the Civil War in Spain in 1936 and let Franco take over in 1939. This didn’t seem like an important conflict that had the capacity to impact on the lives of people outside of Spain. It was the generally accepted view that it was safe to ignore it and let the Spaniards fight it out between themselves. The Spanish Civil War was where Hitler and Mussolini tried out lots of the weapons, planes and tactics they later used all over the place during WWII – so, it would appear that the generally accepted view was flat out wrong.
- None of these things would have happened if the ordinary people thought for themselves and acted on what they knew to be right.
Dolores Ibárruri, a Republican leader in the Spanish Civil War, is reputed to have said, ‘It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.’ While I imagine Dolores and I might have a different opinion of war, I still think she was right. We don’t have to be in a physical battle to need to find the courage to stand up for what is right. And if we want to ‘defend’ ourselves and keep ourselves safe we need to understand that if we don’t defend people who appear to be far away and therefore not connected to us, we are increasing, not diminishing the risk to ourselves.
We are like climbers tied together scaling a tall mountain. Even enlightened self interest suggests we should look out for each other.
And seriously – after you watch this video do you think you’d mind being connected to any of these kids? (I know it’s unbearably cute but I just love it!)