Things going on in news have begun to remind me of my early years, cowering under the stairs, Mickey Mouse gas-masks at the ready, Mother keeping her nerve so as not to frighten us by her own fear, whilst German aircraft scattered bombs over the suburb where I lived. My print expresses my feelings about that war which more and more return to haunt my mind. It shows the holocaust our bombers unleashed on many German cities – the one in the picture being Dresden. Who was bad and who was good in this image? We know the boy was bad because he has a swastika armband. Therefore the crews of the Lancasters were good, obviously. And therefore Bomber Harris, must have been good, as was Churchill. Right? But then can it be good to burn thousands of women and children to death? No, but then look at what the Germans did etc, etc….
By the time this happened everyone in Britain thrilled to the newspaper reports: ‘not much china left in Dresden now’, they chortled. I was too young to know what was going on, but if I had been an adult I would have rejoiced, if I had been Churchill I would have backed Harris to the bitter end. Once it starts, war turns our minds and any atrocity becomes possible. So what do we do? We must be on the alert to see the little ripples in the ocean of international affairs. A tsunami may be building up as I write, a tsunami that could engulf us all. When does robust negotiating turn into warmongering? Phrases like “I want my country back”, move on to “We survived the Blitz!” and go even further, to talk of nuclear armed ships sailing menacingly into the seas around the shores of our current friends and allies. This could be stopped now, but every further step on this road takes us nearer to the point of no return. I just hope and pray this irresponsible talk will peter out harmlessly.
“We Good Them Bad” is a dangerous and deluded philosophy. In the Dresden picture the people below were helpless victims. The men in the bombers were heroes – as can be seen in another print on the theme of Flight, to be seen in the Inky Fingers exhibition of the last post. No one was good or bad.