I am moving into history. When my aunt passed away recently it dawned on me that I’m now the oldest member of this particular branch of my family. This morning I consider what this really means and know the inexorable tide of history shall bear me away as it has taken all the others who went before. Where do we go, we scraps of flotsam drifting in and out on the tides of life? For a lifetime I’ve been asking the questions, who am I, why am I here, what’s it all about? And perhaps, like Wordsworth, am further away from answers than when I was a child. Time, now, to think about returning to the well from which I sprang.
What is wrong with the world today? Where does one begin? But surely at the heart of it is the fact that we have forgotten who we are, where we came from, and have lost all bearings so that we have no idea where we are going. We are blind sailors on ships that have lost their sails, tossed rudderless on black waters. And yet we think we are the crown of creation.
I’ve always struggled to the cenotaph, in good weather and bad, because I remember hearing about the young men who died in the mud in the first world war, and because I had a father whose entire life from the age of 22 was coloured by what happened in the second world war. When I was a child there were old men with squeaky voices, who much later I realized had been damaged by gas attacks in WW1. Now all the old men are gone, and their replacements are youth who have been damaged by the questionable involvements of the past few years. But they are still human beings who were harmed by war. We go to the cenotaph to remember the disgrace that war is, not its “glory.” and vow that we will do what we can to prevent it. “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” ― Edmund Burke