The Mid-Atlantic Blog

February 28, 2006

Life Moves On

It's easy to forget how much things change.

Anyone with a child knows how many questions they ask. My daughter is no exception - coming up on 5 years old, just starting school, and asking questions nineteen to the dozen. I must admit that I find it one of the most fun parts of being a parent, seeing the interest kindle in a huge range of subjects, and the clear enjoyment she finds in learning new things.

Those questions at the moment focus on topics like "where do aliens live" (the answer to which, it turns out is in houses at the bottom of the craters in the moon - and interestingly they co-habit with Mickey Mouse. Who knew!), and how electricity works. But the topics are gradually getting broader, and there will come a time soon enough when they encompass how things used to be, and more political issues.

The differences between the world she's in and the one I was brought up in were brought into sharp relief for me by this film (Protect & Survive). The famous mid-70's public information film covering what to do in the event of a nuclear attack brought home to me both the climate of my childhood (I can vividly remember from quite a young age being aware of the fact that the large number of strategic naval bases close to our house meant that we had a pretty significant quantity of Soviet hardware pointed at us at all times), and the differences from that climate today.

That world came to an end, of course and I can vividly remember the moment I was told that the Wall had come down (a generation specific reference again). We're still not through the other side of the aftermath: the Islamist movement were given training and motivation because of the Soviet attack on Afghanistan, while the public discourse, especially in academia, has not yet adjusted to the realities of Communist crimes, still refusing to put the crimes of Lenin, Stalin, and their successors, as well as those of Mao and his cronies on a par with those of Hitler. We'll know we've left the final stages of that War behind us when wearing a Che shirt isn't acceptable, and when communism is no longer excused.

But on all of these issues we're in the mopping-up phase of the engagement, no matter how long it takes. We have new challenges, and new fears, and if I'm not sure how much safer we are now than then that's beside the point.

This film is, when you come down to it, from a totally different world - and it's that of my childhood. That's a very strange feeling. Watch it, and feel yourself fly backwards to the strange world of 1975.

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