I am attending a class on Tuesday evenings on the Poetry, Literature and Art of the First World War. In it we are looking at the Poets - Wilfred Owen, Sassoon and the like; the Painters - Paul and John Nash, John Singer Sergeant etc. And we are discussing the effect these people had upon the general population during and after the conflict.
In those days, what else did the public have to inform them? Well they had propagaganda films, posters, leaflets etc. They had the word of mouth of those returning from the Front. And they had the gradual realisation that what started as a 'jolly hockey sticks' kind of jaunt, where it was almost fun to join up, to the point where it became obvious that 'over there' it was hell on earth.
How very different then from now where it is thrown into our faces while we sit on the settee eating a box of chocolates, or doing the washing up, or the ironing.
In the newspapers the Headline will be accompanied by a photograph, usually a very graphic one. It will move from one conflict to another, leaving behind one when another starts up. (Is there still fighting in Aleppo? If so it hasn't been in the newspapers for weeks - other conflicts and disasters have taken over).
Last night the Headline news on the television was of the awful situation in Gaza - where a building was destroyed and the dead were being brought out. One person was still alive - a finger moved - but the rest of her family were dead.
Is it a coincidence that there do not seem to be war poets, war painters or anyone writing about these wars? Or are there such people in the places where they are occurring?
And is this daily 'in your face' contact perhaps making us impervious to the awfulness of it all? I don't know the answer - I just know that there seems to have become a point where the newsmen move from country to country, grasping the sensationalism and then moving on.
War these days is dreadful in a completely different way with all the sophisticated weaponry, but the result is the same - thousands killed in the name of some ideology or other. We need to know about it - but how and under what circumstances would we be best served?