Updated: Aug 1, 2020

I read something today that I probably should have been more aware of, but it was one of those things that had to be smacked around my face before I could really see it. I’ve toured Europe many times over and have heard the stories of WW1, WW2 and the many other battles that occurred over the thousands of years of human existence in the region, but this is a bit of a different perspective:

Imagine you were born in the year 1900.

WW1 begins when you are 14 years old and ends when you are 18. Shortly after the Spanish Flu becomes a global pandemic, you are 20 years old.

At 29 you live through a global economic crisis, the Great Depression.

The Nazis come to power when you’re 33 years old, WW2 begins when you’re 39 and ends when you’re 45. Around 70 million in total die, including nearly 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. (Around 2/3 of the European Jewish population at that time.)

At 52 the Korean War begins. At 64 the Vietnam War begins and it ends when you are 75.

This was presented to me to help give me some perspective on the issues we face right now in the world, mainly the Coronavirus and the restrictions that we are all facing due to this current pandemic. That’s a very valid and useful reminder to be thankful for what we have and the relative ease of our existence now compared to the past, but it’s made me think about what things would be like for us should we go into war today.

Last night on the news I was a little shocked to hear some quite direct talk of a possible upcoming war with China. I suppose the signs have been there for a little while with China becoming more aggressive in different areas, and many other countries starting to show signs of taking sides either for or against on issues to do with China. It is a scary and sad thought that war with such a big, powerful and populated country could be in our near future. How would it affect you and your loved ones?

In the case of the made-up person described above that lived through so many major global events, it must have been almost like a default mode to return to a defend, protect and survive type existence. Imagine losing your home to the ruins of war, losing loved ones, having no shelter or food to sustain yourself on a daily basis. Imagine surviving that, somehow managing to rebuild some semblance of a stable life only to have it all brought down around you once again… It must have been unbearable, so challenging both mentally and physically.

We have had a taste of global instability with the 2008 financial crisis, but now we are facing it on a much bigger scale with the effects reaching nearly everyone. People have lost their jobs, are facing financial ruin, and depending on where you live in the world you are facing losing loved ones and even losing your own life. We are starting to get a taste of what our made up person faced at the age of 14, before they had to face another 2 or 3 global disasters before they reached 50 years old.

I feel like there is no failsafe playbook for what could be coming our way, it’s different for everyone and also depends on where you live in the world. Some of the wealthy in Europe moved as much of their wealth as they could to Swiss banks before WW2 in the hopes that it would be safest there. Many found themselves destitute in the years following having lost their properties and finding themselves unable to reach Switzerland to access their money during the war. But if you have the means to travel and live in other countries, that could be a very lucky position to find yourself in. Those with more than one citizenship and passport could have more options for protection.

I guess it all comes down to being willing to accept that during a war everything could be lost, and there is probably not much that could be done about it. We are all born into this world owning nothing and we don’t take any of it with us when we die. Some people make millions in cash during their life, then lose it, maybe make it all back again, maybe lose it again… There are never any guarantees. Some people make it big late in life; some people never make it big. Some never try; some never stop trying.

Personally, I feel I could start from the bottom and try to rebuild my life again if I lost everything. I think I’d be grateful to still be alive and the will to keep building would always drive me forward. I will always watch what’s happening in the world and try to make decisions to keep myself and loved ones safe, but I would like to think that losing everything wouldn’t ever break my spirit.

How about you?

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