My father was always telling me about the war when I was growing up and I have admit that I never saw the point of talking about death and destruction. What was so good about re-enacting war games? I have never been an advocate of violence and think that the human obsession to be "alpha" in endemic in society. I guess all animals do this to an extent. They ostracize the weak and kill anyone who is a threat to their family or pack. However, human being have done this over the years for very strange reasons, but to start with it was for a better life. As people had more children and needed more space, they naturally sought to explore and utilise this world's natural resources.
Recently, I have been reading a lot of historical novels and have been interested in the past. Why now? I don't know... I guess the past defines who we are and makes are aspirations clearer. There is something reassuring about knowing we are not alone. In my reading, I have come across many interesting facts which explain the lead up to the great war. Although, it is important to realise that war has always happened. Different cultures and social groups can not agree all the time.
Centuries ago Europeans conquered the "uncivilised" world and claimed it in the name of their King. They killed and destroyed established societies. Yet, we do not remember the many killed then - they are nameless! People were then treated as property and sold to the highest bidder in the name of commericalisation. Sad that slavery still occurs in this day and age. When we buy goods, do we ever really stop to think about how we manage to get them so cheaply. Years ago, commodities like pepper, sugar, and tea and coffee were only used by those willing to pay a high price. Now, we live in a throw-away climate. I am guilty of having thrown away goods that have gone out-of-date on countless occasions.
Industrialisation led to a society that was more clearly defined into haves and have-nots. In the previous century, those with nothing either died, were killed or were forgotten. The advent of accessible paper and record keeping via a census meant it was more difficult to ignore those in need. Trade unions also fought for the rights of the working class. Ordinary people fought for our freedom.
The two world wars were made more bloody and ruthless by the power of new weaponry. Machine guns, larger bombs, tanks, airplanes, and the nuclear bomb. Does man have no limits to the destruction he can bring on humanity?
This is why even though I started out life complacent about the war, we should now not forget - EVER. Remember the sacrifices men and women over the ages have made for our liberty and way of life. Likewise, we should learn to give up our time for those who are less fortunate. Today in the UK, we have poverty still. There are other social issues that plague us - the use of drugs for one. I would even go as far as to say that sugar is a drug, one that I try to resist every day!
So, this armistice day I write this blog post to remember others and hope that in writing the evolution trilogy I help to raise awareness for many issues that still filter through society. The need to look out for your family, respect all life, suppress our power to do harm, and yet live a life that is fulfilled and rewarding.
I leave you with one of my favourite extracts from Complications. I hope we never forget...
All the best, Vanessa
She must have seen him scrunch his nose as she said, ‘You don’t need to control yourself. I know the smell. I’ve been around for a very long time. Do you know that I am one hundred and fourteen years old? My body is just starting to show its age. Thing is, it’s not impossible to live this long. The longest living human being was a French woman – she got to the age of one hundred and twenty two. And did you know that there is a woman still alive in the United States born in the same year as me? I was born in eighteen ninety six, a couple of years before the turn of the century. Edwardian Britain, a Britain with no real knowledge of war, an invincible empire.’ She coughed. ‘Water please.’
Steven reached for the glass on her bedside table and passed it over.
She took a sip. ‘Thank you.’
‘Don’t strain yourself.’
‘No, you have to listen. It’s important you understand. The Great War changed the world. Did you know that? Millions of people died. I was your age when friends, relatives and acquaintances died to preserve our freedom. Your grandfather was one of the lucky ones, although he did not feel so lucky to survive at the time. It was the worst thing we thought we’d ever see.’ She coughed again and took another sip.
Steven waited. He did not want to interrupt.
‘We were wrong. It was not the worst thing. It was the beginning of the end for many. The roaring twenties brought many good things. Automobiles. Moving pictures or talkies as they then became known as. Walt Disney produced Mickey Mouse. And of course Jazz and the infamous Charleston,’ she giggled. ‘I was quite good you know.’
‘I imagine you were.’
‘You are such a charmer, just like your grandfather. Anyway, I got to dress as I pleased, was wild for a while and even got to vote like a man. What a privilege! You should have seen us girls lining up the street. Imagine. Well, I guess you can’t – you take that for granted now.’
‘Don’t apologise. Each generation is faced with a different set of problems. The thing is it couldn’t last. As you must know, or they surely teach you nothing at school, the bubble burst in 1929. The Great depression brought hard times.’
‘Not that different to now. The latest recession has brought a lot of problems.’
‘Yes, life has a way of repeating itself. Or, humans have a way of making the same mistakes,’ she chuckled.
Steven was mesmerised, he had no idea Judith was so fascinating.
He could not wait to hear the rest. The past was a scary and yet very insightful place sometimes. If only people paid more attention, the world would be a lot simpler."