In my understanding, the European Union was set up to help bring about the end of wars and to increase international cooperation. Or to use the classic Miss World phrase, to promote “world peace”, the cause we all agree is so worthy. The UK wasn’t involved in the beginnings of the EU after the Second World War. We’ve often been slow to cooperate, and quick to hang onto what we deem to be ours. And, having come late to the party, we’ve exited the EU now as well. So I feel mixed about the 75th anniversary of “Victory in Europe”. I feel sad that we let go of something so precious, won at such cost, without seemingly remembering that the point of it all was to prevent war, with all its needless, tragic bloodshed from happening in Europe again.
For more about the history of the EU have a look here: https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/history_en
In a report about VE Day on the news last night, someone pointed out that when the UK welfare state (including the NHS, the world’s first free health service) was created, after the Second World War, even people who wouldn’t really benefit from it supported it, because they knew it would be good for others.
People who are staying at home and still physically distancing themselves during this pandemic are doing so not only for their own benefit, but out of consideration for other people, so they don’t inadvertently pass COVID-19 onto them.
I wish we could reclaim some of that post war clear-sightedness and selflessness now, for those who are not bothering to physically distance themselves from others. I imagine that anyone whose relative has died tragically from COVID-19 will continue to be careful about distancing themselves. The cost is real to them. I suppose by the end of the Second World War, probably everybody in the UK knew more than one person who had died in the war, and many others who’d been injured in it. Maybe this was part of what inspired such enormous public support for the welfare state, even though it must have cost tax payers dearly. Who cares about taxes when they’ve seen people die in wartime?
I understand that this isolation is a nightmare for some people. Especially those grieving alone, those having to shield themselves, and those who are really ill in hospital and for those who are trapped in unsafe homes, or who are finding the situation is triggering trauma from the past. But I hope that those of us who are not facing a direct mortal threat from being at home will manage to stay put for the time being, out of consideration for others, as well as ourselves.