The Veneer of Civilisation

It’s Christmas time, but allow me some sombre thoughts.

Sometimes I stop to wonder how extraordinarily different our lives are to those of our parents and grandparents. I may be a fully paid up citizen of the twenty first century, but I actually arrived on earth a generation late. I was born towards the end of the Second World War. My father and six uncles fought in the First World War. Both my grandfathers were born in 1860.

So in my family ties and memories go back a long way.

I am currently just over half way through a very powerful book, All Hell Let Loose. The World at War 1939-1945, by Max Hastings. It is quite shocking in its depiction of the full horror of many theatres – particularly Russia, China, Germany, Italy, the Balkans, Greece, South East Asia and France. I strongly recommend this enormous tome – both as vivid history, and as a terrible warning about what can happen on a global scale when extremists take power, ideology obliterates democracy, and mass brutality rips away the veneer of civilisation.

Wise decision making is essential on the micro scale that encompasses our personal and business lives, as I have tried to illustrate in this blog during 2011.

But read All Hell Let Loose, and you will convince yourself how vital it is that Britain and our allies decide at almost any cost to avoid war over Syria, Iran, North Korea, or whichever flashpoint happens to be dominating the news bulletins. The Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya involvements have been bad enough. But at least – terrorism aside – they have been more or less contained. World War Two was notable for the contagion, not just of war, but also the casualty rate, destruction, misery and degradation it caused in its wake.

My holiday reading? Hastings’ “The First World War. 1914-1918” .

The Great War was after all the War that failed to end all wars.

Happy Christmas.