What Should You Fear More – War Or Peace?

This is a very nice story I recommend everybody to read: it finishes with a beautiful ending:

“Relax!,” she said. “It’s not important! When you’ve been in a death camp, you get to see that missing an airplane really doesn’t matter very much.”(1)

The story is about our fears and it is very accurate these days. It got published two days ago by the Guardian, and was written by Max Hastings. He writes about a character who lived in another period of great fear, that of the Pest in about 1660, and about Churchill who set the Home Guard at work just “to do something.” Even if the direct link to security could not be made, it gave people some rest in a period full of stress.

In war or peace, people find it hard to come to terms with the notion of their own environment, physical, social or economic, becoming something quite different from what it is.

The idea is that these times are not unique and that people are able to oversee only a limited amount of bad news: Churchill, during the second world war, explained this phenomenon to the head of the army, General Sir Alan Brooke. He called it the “three-inch pipe” theory of human response. Human beings, he said, can only absorb so much drama – up to the capacity of say, a three-inch pipe. Thereafter, everything that happens around them rushes past, along an emotional overflow.

In such a process it doesn’t really matter what “time” it is; war or peace. In England people really started to feel bad after the war when the situation deteriorated.

His point is that “we” should be able to resist these times, in the end “you may loose some money.” It puts things in perspective. Like the story of the old woman. Relax!


(1) – guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/29/creditcrunch.secondworldwar