The Torch

Tuesday 21st February

The World is a dangerous place, it has always been a dangerous place.  Regimental Centurions marching in  and building their Cities, marauding hordes of Saxons, Danes and Vikings, the wretched Normans imposing their iron rule on us.  And so it has continued; War and pillage and young men drafted to man ships of war or as cannon fodder while Lords and politicians carved out Alliances on the Continent of Europe.

And as technology has improved so have the dangers, each new war being fought with newer and more dangerous weapons; horses replaced with tanks, bombers with drones, howitzers with missiles.  And yet our leaders still threaten War at every opportunity, mind you they have chosen their enemies carefully, minor despots in oil-rich Middle Eastern states mostly.  Some sabre-rattling against the big boys like Russia and China but backing away from actual conflict, preferring sanctions or cyber-hacking to real fighting.

And we seem to be once again on the cusp of major changes.  The institutions that have preserved a fragile peace for seventy years are in danger of collapsing.  Maybe whatever emerges will be better, we can only hope so.  Perhaps it has always been this way; a fragile nervous Peace – War, like some slumbering volcano waiting to blow.

The tragedy for my generation is that the Sixties were such a time of Optimism; we really thought we could and would change the World.  Make Love Not War, was our slogan.  But we have failed (or rather the leaders we chose have failed), the youth of today know that the World is a crock of shit and getting worse by the day, they cling to ideas of Fame and Celebrity and Images of Beauty – as if personal success will isolate them from the ravages to come.

As a boy waiting outside the Headmaster’s office, wondering if it would be six or twelve swishes of the cane today, I would read the bronze plaque “To You We Pass The Burning Torch, Be It Your To Hold On High”.  Our generation has let slip the torch, it is tumbling slowly to the floor, hopefully someone will catch it.