Every time I head to social media, I feel like it’s more bad news.
Climate change can’t be stopped.
We’re all going to die.
North Korea is going to start a nuclear war.
Orange man bad.
Hey look, a cute video of some cats playing with hamsters (wait, no, more clickbait about some asteroid that will kill us all in 2028).
The usual suspects.
It’s interesting how, despite giving us more access to information than ever, the Internet (more specifically, social media) has ushered in an age of disinformation: where vitriol and fallacies reign supreme and followers, likes and shares trump logic, empiricism and respectful debate.
It was supposed to connect us, but instead social media seems to have exposed just how fragmented and disconnected we really are.
Twitter was supposed to create discourse; instead, it’s turned into an online shouting match.
Even things like Instagram have exposed how narcissistic we are as a whole — or is it how narcissistic we’ve become?
Good times create weak men, and we’ve had our fair share of both.
That’s not to say there haven’t been bumps along the way since we staved off fascism’s most recent hurrah, namely those two-and-a-half decades where the two most powerful empires in the history of humanity decided it would be good idea to get into an arms race involving the most destructive weapon mankind has ever created, but things could be a lot worse.
Another thing I see a lot in the age of social media is the word “hero” getting thrown around.
From activists gone viral to the latest flavour-of-the-month politician, it seems nowadays everyone is heralded as the next messiah who is going to lead us into some utopian future.
In spending all of our time looking to the heroes of the future, however, we often forget the unsung ones of the past — the ones who made the present possible.
I often wonder about those young men and kids — and many of them were kids, routinely as young as 16 — on their landing crafts, tearing through those choppy waters on the way to various sections of Normandy beachfront 75 years ago.
What they were thinking about as the doors opened and they got their first glimpse of the fortified German defences?
What did they feel as their boots sunk into the soft sand and the screams of enemy munition whizzed passed their ears as they trudged through enemy lines?
I don’t have these answers, nor do I think all soldiers had the same motives for heading into battle, but I like to think that many of these men sacrificed their own lives because they felt it was the only option.
That the long-term longevity and potential of their descendants was more important than their own fleeting well-being.
That, dare I say it, it was the right thing to do for their fellow man, for their nation.
What I do know is that we have those men, and any soldier who stood up and fought against fascism, to thank for the world we live in today.
Sure, it isn’t perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it would be if they hadn’t put it all on the line and faced death head first on that June morning three quarters of a century ago.
So amongst all the negative news, amongst all the ad hominems that you have to wade through to get to this story, I have one simple request.
In the aftermath of this grim-yet-important anniversary, take some time out of your day and think — I mean really acknowledge — how terrifying it must have been for these kids as they stood on those boats with their final letters home tucked snugly into their jackets.
I don’t mean just think to yourself: “Yeah, those guys were real brave, I really appreciate what they did.”
I mean put yourself in their shoes, imagine you are on that boat. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Will this be your last breath or will the bullet hit your friend standing eight inches to your right? Is that mortar shell going to miss the boat?
Whenever I am facing a hardship in life I try to do this, to remind myself that if they could do that then I can face whatever trivial problem I’m facing.
I don’t know why, but it always makes me feel like I am better prepared to be strong in my own struggles — that we can be stronger in our struggles, challenging as they may be.
That’s the key, all these problems we face today are problems we face as a world.
Climate Change? World issue.
Terrorism? World Issue.
Flat Earthers? Unfortunately, an issue that extends around the globe.
We aren’t out of the woods by a long shot, but we have to thank the heroes who gave us a shot at unravelling the map.
Let’s make sure their sacrifice wasn’t in vain.