Fear and the historical perspective

Little perspective goes a long way when it comes to fear and courage. I have had the honour of listening to war time memoirs of the 12-year-old boy caught up in Nazi occupation of south east Europe. Practically an orphan, this boy volunteered to join resistance guerilla and fight to defend his town, what family he had left and his friends, who often belonged to the opposing ethnic group. This was not the western front with adults fighting adults using modern, efficient ways of killing but a brutal guerilla warfare often involving children and civilians. From being alone and wounded in the woods, to charging at fascist fortifications, all while being constantly sick, hungry, and chronically tired, his story is one of triumph of human spirit over horrendous circumstances. It is story of courage in the least likely of places – a smart and innocent boy who had to give up that innocence to survive and protect what he loved. Viewed from today’s perspective it seems like a movie plot or a fantasy series but it in fact happened only 80 years ago. That is one lifetime ago, when we were asking children to make enormous sacrifices and display courage which in today’s world very few adults would be able to do. From this perspective our fears seem trivial – losing a job, being reprimanded by school, work, a bylaw officer, contracting a virus etc. We are fed and warm, loaded with nutrients, rested, healthy and with access to state of the art health care and everything else we need. Our life expectancy is over 80 years old, and that is 80 years of relative comfort, where in vast majority of cases our problems boil down to inconveniences. We need to stare reality in the eyes by putting our situation in the historical context and thereby throw away shackles of fear and embrace courage in all its life-affirming glory.

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