The older I get, the more I love history, and after classes ended today, I was chatting with our Social Studies department head. I was enrapt by some of his stories of Canada’s involvement in the two World Wars. Those wars. They were horrible. So very many thousands of people died – often hundreds at a time. Everyone must have had their hearts in their throats all the time, fearing not only the possible humiliation and uncertainty of losing a war and what havoc the enemy would wreak on their way of life, but also, the very real daily threat of getting the telegram that told of the loss of a loved one.
I think about all those boys waiting to fly bombing missions into Germany where one in every ten crews “bought it” on each mission. (How would you feel flying your 11th mission?) No one was under any delusion. They all knew they were living on borrowed time. I think about an old English professor I had, who told of a giant stone coming through his ceiling in the middle of the night one night, and landing between him and his brother during Hitler’s bombing raids over London. What kind of stoicism allowed the Brits to keep up a stiff upper lip in such times? Those were indeed hard times.
I wonder what the people of those times would have thought of us if they could step into our social media world and see the things we write about. The worst threat to me in a day is a paper cut. I jog to keep in shape. This was laughable to my grandpa, who knew the daily physical exhaustion of being a farmer. We boohoo over EVERYTHING: a run-in with someone at work, a heartache, our kids, a headache. I’ll bet that older generation would be completely perplexed at our misery. They’d likely wonder why we are such a bunch of sad sacks, pitching and whining about every little thing. God forbid any one of us would ever have to endure a tooth ache or ear ache without running for the Tylenol bottle!
I’m not saying that life is perfect. It’s not. And I’m not saying that there isn’t real suffering in the world – even in Canada. There is. But honestly! The whining never stops! What the hell is wrong with us?