Sometimes the past and present have a way of over-lapping at the oddest moments. Such as when vocal critics ramped up their volume in Wisconsin recently concerning the stay at home orders.
There is ample reason to ask why during a pandemic, with never-ending awful headlines, I chose to read a book about the German bombing campaign in Britain during 1940 and 1941. There were certainly light-hearted books on my shelves to have selected from, had I wanted. The drama that unfolds in The Splendid and the Vile revolves around the first year of office for Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the dreadful weeks of bombing in Britain. If the book had been written by anyone other than Erik Larson I would have made another choice.
To be honest, the book was a tonic of sorts, as I knew the good guys would prevail. The outcome was one that, though painful to achieve, worked out with a victory history still asks us to not forget. Leadership from the top and steely determination from the populace were essential ingredients in those war years for the Brits.
While reading about the blitz the louder and angrier voices started to percolate within Wisconsin regarding their desire to end Governor Tony Evers’ order to stay at home. The pandemic lead every newscast and appeared above the fold in every newspaper, but the protestor’s desire to reach back in time for ‘the normal’ was stronger than the medical data about the virus. As the bombs were falling within the pages the protesters were on the Capitol Square making demands.
As I finished the book this weekend some questions came to my mind.
Had the Brits been replaced with Wisconsin residents, who now clamor for businesses to re-open and commerce to again ratchet up, could they have endured the stringent requirements to ensure victory?
How soon before some guy from northern Wisconsin would have yelled “freedom” as he turned on all his house lights in flagrant violation of maintaining darkness so to thwart aerial attacks?
Who would be the first ardent person of faith to demand the church bells ring even though a prohibition of such ringing was instituted? (Ringing of bells was to give notice of an impending attack.)
Who would say ‘no way’ to the demands that bikes be dismantled and the carburetor removed from automobiles? Or the gas tanks drained from vehicles?
How many of those protesting in Madison would have followed the advice to destroy all maps, so if Germany had invaded the local lay of the land would be more of a mystery?
Those who shun masks today, as though it were a personal affront to be told to wear one, would have been red-hot angry when issued a gas mask in Britain and told to have it with them at work, church, and near their bed.
History shows the lengths human endurance must take, at times of crisis, so to prevail and come through on the other side victorious. After only a few weeks of staying home with food, electricity, and gadgets galore some citizens in our state make it seem they have been asked to undertake some truly arduous task.
They seemingly have no idea what others have had to endure for the preservation of the many.
And so it goes.