My father was born in London back in 1937, right on the brink of the Second World War.
His childhood was marked by the chaos of the war. He remembers air raid sirens, ration cards, and the constant threat to his democracy, a threat that has stayed with him for the next seven decades.
Navigating the pandemic with my father has been interesting, to say the least. It has provided me with a different perspective on the events that have been unfolding. When everyone was fighting tooth and nail for toilet paper and water back in March, my father told me that all he ever wanted during the war was a single banana. My father survived the German Blitz of 1940. He survived it crouched underneath his kitchen table, listening to his antique grandfather’s clock tick and praying that the sounds of the bombs in the distance wouldn’t get any closer. It can be difficult navigating a major, generation defining historical event, but navigating one with someone who has already survived the unthinkable makes it ever so slightly more manageable.
But last Wednesday, even my stoic father seemed shocked. He couldn’t seem to peel his eyes away from the television. I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking. His childhood was irrevocably tarnished by hate, racism, and totalitarianism. And yet here he was, decades later, watching one of the pillars of democracy be destroyed by the same rhetoric that blackened his childhood. Here he was, separated by thousands of miles and countless years from the dangers of 1940 wartime London, only to have to watch the same regressive discourse wreak havoc on our nation. He seemed both fascinated and terrified, mostly terrified though.
But watching these events through my father’s eyes made me realize something. I realized that the threats that we are dealing with are not our own. That each generation throughout human history has had its own struggles against despotism, racism, and hate. And at least so far, we seem to be winning the fight.