I mentioned in a previous post that I have a copy of “If… (Questions for the Game of Life)” by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell (Villard Books, 1995). It gives you an “If…” question about life, and you answer it. Good for dinner parties or blogs, apparently.
The one I’m tweaking today is “If you could have lived through any war in history (without actually fighting in it), which war would you choose?”.
Of course, nobody is going to really choose a war to live through. Unless they’re being literal, in which case the shortest war or the most localized war would be best, with you on the other side of the planet, preferably. And to be honest, to even attempt to answer that question and figure out what some of the parameters might be is a bit horrific to think about. All war is hell.
But, if I go sideways for a second, and ask about seeing the sociological changes that happen during the same time, WWII is probably my war of choice. Knowing the outcome, knowing the reality, it would be incredible to see how people got their news, and reacted to it, in real-time. As a child who became aware of the world in the 80s, it’s hard to imagine news being shared at movie theatres rather than on the radio or TV. Changes in the roles of women both during and after the war. PTSD as humans came back — “shell shock” at the time. Even the horrific but gradual awareness of the reality of the concentration camps as the news started to enter into mainstream thought, not just occasional rumours that were dismissed as outrageous, impossible, unreliable even.
Some of the interest is grim, some of it is academic, but much of life in the Western hemisphere changed in a five- or six-year timeframe. All wars have been catalysts for change…this one just resonates more with me as I can see glimpses of the before and after.
If you had to live through a war, or just simply observe the changes from one, which would you choose?