We’ve unfortunately always had so many wars and revolutions, each with their own propaganda machine to engage our support.
The Great War, World War II, the Vietnam War (did you know Vietnamese people call this the American War?), the War on Terror, etc. Each with a big and powerful title, which aimed to inspire us to passionately believe that a fight and its sacrifices were worthwhile.
War of some sorts has always been part of our lives. I grew up in the 1980s, taught that the next war would be nuclear or perhaps chemical in nature, with whole communities, countries or even continents destroyed. I remember my grandparents talking about air raid shelters, evacuation and relying on the London Underground network for protection against bombs in the 1940s. I recall the fear which ensued following the IRA bombs in the 1980s and 1990s. Then the horrific 9/11 attacks (during which I was in Washington DC) and the July 2005 bombings (which took place two days before I left London to go backpacking for six months). My children have rehearsed terrorist/knife/gun attacks at school, being told they have to hide from “a big dog” that has escaped in the grounds – with no mention to them of course of why they are practising this surreal and disturbing scenario.
But now we have a new war to fight. This time not between different countries or areas but right across the globe. Our civilians are being “targeted” by a common enemy, a coronavirus, and our doctors and essential workers have become our “soldiers”. No country or person is immune. Instead of arms we rely on ventilators and grocery delivery vans for survival.
“Coronovirus” pervades every news headline, along with Government slogans to motivate us to “#stayathome”, “#beahero” and “#protectthenhs”. There is no other news. Right now nothing else matters – politically, socially, economically – it is as if there is no other fight or thought right now.
Perhaps we should therefore call this the War on Coronavirus? Or the Corona War? Or Covid-19 I (allowing for Covid-19 II, III etc for further waves?!)?
This also gets me thinking about some powerful 1939 World War II posters I like:
“Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution WILL BRING US VICTORY“
and (which you’ll know well I’m sure!):
“KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”
“FREEDOM IS IN PERIL, DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT”
These slogans are extremely powerful and motivating, but isn’t it also deeply disturbing that words from 81 years ago carry such resonance today? A different context yet still so relevant. Perhaps we should adapt these posters, adding the words “Stay at Home” at the end of each one, and pin them up on our windows?