The View from Here: Remembrance and Hope

… as the afternoon passes and the sun breaks through the clouds at last, I shall raise a glass to this imperfect but beautiful world.

VE Day.  Victory in Europe.  75 years since Churchill informed the country of Germany’s unconditional surrender.  Outside it’s calm and overcast.  One of those shrouded, melancholic mornings which often find me pensive and questioning.  Perhaps that’s what lies at the bottom of these musings.

Of course we owe a huge debt to the men and women who collectively brought about this event and they should rightly be remembered.  But this day means different things in different parts of Europe, and did not mark the end of the war, which continued across the Pacific.  Celebrations in some parts of the world, reminiscences of a different kind in many others.  And as things are, the majority of commemorative events planned this year cannot happen anyway. 

There is a new enemy, miniscule and deadly, and it attacks unseen across the world with scant regard for borders.  At present it can best be thwarted by separation but it offers such opportunity for us all to come together, in spirit if not in person.  There are many accounts of disparate groups collaborating to share expertise and creativity and logistics; globally we could, and surely should, act together to control Covid-19.  But all too frequently it seems to me, we hear about the competition, the criticism, the conspiracy theories.  At the micro level – at the level of you and me – we see neighbour supporting neighbour.  In Britain at least, the wartime metaphors have been plentiful.  The spirit of the Blitz has risen from its slumber.  Will we see the Dunkirk spirit in full flow when it comes to supporting less developed countries tackling the same virus but under very different and more challenging conditions?  Can Governments set aside their recriminations and points scoring to focus on what really matters?  And when this crisis has passed, will we pause and take stock before we hurtle unthinking back into the world of cinemas and football crowds, gridlocked motorways and crowded commuter trains?  Can we consider what has been learned and which of the changes initially imposed on us might actually be worth retaining?  I hope so and I shall cling to that hope for as long as I can.

Green and pleasant

My thoughts return to the present.  Eleven o’clock approaches.  There is one thing that need not change.

I stop typing.  I pause. I move to the window.  And for 2 minutes I stand silent.  It is very calm outside.  I see the trees dressed up early this year after the mild, wet winter, not in red, white and blue but in universal, restful and infinite shades of green.  I see the green trees and the green and pleasant fields and the sheep safely grazing in those fields.  There are silhouettes against the clouds but the aerial displays are of swallows not spitfires.   And the sound is of birdsong not bombs.   And I remember and offer thanks and huge respect to that generation who endured the six years which in Britain culminated on this day in 1945 and contributed to my being able to stand here in tribute, watching the swallows.54a1cfc41fb2462530c2404f48c3ddc1-bird-silhouette-swallow

I remember also, the countless others who’ve endured – and continue to endure – great loss and deprivation caused by the harsh realities both of humankind and the natural world.

There is so much we can learn from challenge and conflict.  It would be nice to think that in the remembering of conflicts past and the battling with challenges present, we can take from those lessons and sow the seeds of change.  From little acorns …

Oak tree silhouette

One day perhaps.

I can hope.

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And in the meantime, as the afternoon passes and the sun breaks through the clouds at last, I shall raise a glass to this imperfect but beautiful world.

Raise a glass
Taken May 6th 2016. Scarcely a leaf to be seen. What a contrast to the photo above, taken this morning.

 

41 thoughts on “The View from Here: Remembrance and Hope”

    1. Thanks Pat. I thought hard about posting it but it reflects my thinking at the time. The sun is shining brightly here this morning. A brand new beautiful day! xx

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      1. The best thoughts are the spontaneous ones- otherwise the moment is lost. Beautiful day here too. I can’t remember a Spring being more voluptuous.xxx

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  1. A great post Sandra and a wonderful view. Some people may change their behaviour after this pandemic, but I fear more will return to the world of rushing around, spinning plates to make ends meet and not noticing the world around them. A slower more gentle pace of life would be good for us and the planet, but I am not hopeful.

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      1. I am sure many people can work from home, but it is not easy if you have young children at home or no actual designated workspace and it is far too easy to work longer than you would in an office environment. But changes definitely can be made regarding videoconferencing instead of flying people around the world for a 2 day conference, or a 2 hour meeting, which happens. And we have the opportunity to pedestrianise city and town centres now. Keep cars out. Develop park ‘n ride systems, cycle tracks, walking trails. I’d walk more if it was safe to do so, but many roads here have no pavements and I don’t want to be climbing stiles and walking in mud at my age.

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        1. All excellent points. I’m thinking of course of both my sons, childless and very keen to continue working from home. One has been doing so for a long time now anyway and is currently looking at ways to enable his staff to do the same. But yes, there will be difficulties for many of course. As for walking locally – I hear you! It can be a nightmare down here!

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Mary, thank you for reading. Maybe the next post will have a different theme. Just depends how I’m feeling at the time! 🙂

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  2. Here the “leader” of our country is so confused by the World War II analogy that he said the covid is our Pearl Harbor and we need to get out there and confront it. Huh? I appreciate your accurate connection to Britain in the War. Here many are rising to the occasion to help one another. Hard times certainly can bring out two kinds of people!

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    1. As I watched the ‘celebrations’ on tv last night, Elizabeth, I struggled. The notion of ‘victory’ must imply ‘defeat’ for others and whilst it was understandable 75 years ago, now – after all this time – it troubles me. I came across some references to yesterday being a celebration of peace. That I can accept and applaud. If VE Day could be renamed maybe…

      As for your ‘leader’, I try to understand where he’s coming from. But I fail every time.

      And yes – hard times certainly bring out both kinds of people. We must hope that more of one kind emerge than the other.

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    1. I knew spring had arrived earlier than usual this year, Rose. But when I compared photos from this year and 4 years ago I was astonished. I estimate we are at least a month ahead of 2016. And yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful to envisage a slower and more considerate future. It could be done, I feel sure. If we move just a little closer to that ideal, I’ll be delighted 🙂

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      1. How extraordinary? Was winter in Cornwall colder or milder than usual?
        I was thinking of your post and photos while out walking this morning, was looking at trees that are losing their leaves.
        As for kinder future, I hope so too 🙂

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        1. As our leaves emerge, yours are fading 🙂 We had a wet and mild autumn and winter with no real cold spells at all. And spring has been warm and sunny – twisting the knife whilst everyone has been largely shut indoors! It has clearly suited the trees!

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Liz. I was unsure of its reception but felt that it didn’t matter; it was what I wanted to say. And the sun is still shining this morning! It’s beautiful outside! 🙂 🌞

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      1. It’s so important to write what we want to write as the starting point, isn’t it. It’s been a lovely day up here too. Chilly weather on the way though!

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  3. Most thoughtful, beautiful, words, Sandra. One of the most enlightening comments for me yesterday came from the BBC’s German correspondent who explained that that nation was celebrating not victory over, but liberation from the Nazi rule.

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    1. Derrick that’s so good to hear. I also heard a piece last night which referred to the celebrations this year as a celebration of peace. That makes more sense to me than a celebration of victory 🙂

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  4. This is a beautifully written post, as ever, and expresses a lot of what has been passing through my mind. I really would like to hope that the period of reflection we’ve had recently, and not just about VE Day is a chance to re-calibrate things – travelling less, in a more planet-sustainable manner, consuming less, relying on short, local supply chains etc. etc. What has quite upset me about this year’s VE Day events though has been the jingoism from too many quarters. It’s Victory IN Europe, not OVER Europe, as one national daily seems to believe.

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    1. I would like to hope that too, Margaret, though I accept it’s unlikely. If just a few changes are sustained that will be progress. I too struggle with the jingoism. I’m glad I didn’t see that headline. For me the whole concept of victory feels uncomfortable because it necessarily implies a vanquished. 75 years ago – yes, of course. But now? I don’t want to think of winners and losers 75 years on. I did hear the day described as a celebration of peace in Europe which felt more appropriate. Though there is a way to go before that sentiment really applies. In many respects the warmongering continues.

      Thankfully the sun is shining and the garden calls. I shall lose myself in nature next!

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  5. A beautiful and thoughtful post, Sandra. I think a crisis brings out the best and the worst in people (to paraphrase a well-known philosopher) and I’m afraid we have seen plenty of both during the recent crisis. I am perhaps less optimistic than you regarding whether the world’s politician will be able to work together on this, but let’s hope for the best!

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  6. As you suggest, echoed in some of the comments above, it’s distressing to see the jingoism and triumphalism in some of the VE day manifestations. I applaud your sentiments about hopes for a better world as a result of lessons learnt from this crisis – but it will take a more enlightened leadership than the one we currently have, obsessed as it seems to be with image and bluster about ‘success’ against the virus. As for WWII: my father was a POW for much of it, and had some terrible experiences. He always had mixed feelings when the nation ‘celebrated’ war-related anniversaries. I intend posting something about him shortly. On another note: I continue to scour the skies for swallows with no success, and still no cuckoo song in the woods!

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    1. Your father’s experience is a case in point, Simon. I shall look out for your post about him. It’s the experiences of individuals that truly bring home the consequences of war. (And indeed of pandemics.)

      No cuckoos, no swallows either! I feel for you! We have swallows nesting again this year. Two successful broods last summer after a disastrous year in 2018 and no swallows at all in 2017. So I’m hoping for success again this time around. There’s still time for them to find you!

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  7. A lovely thoughtful post Sandra, and many of us are taking stock during this time of ongoing crisis. Let us hope that at least some lessons are learnt that translate into some meaningful changes going forward.

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