‘A time to ques­tion what we are told’

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - TIM CADO­GAN

So loud were the beat­ing of the war-drums at the out­break of World War 1 that a soldier who sur­vived the con­flict wrote on hear­ing of the start of hos­til­i­ties: ‘‘I was over­come with im­petu­ous en­thu­si­asm, and fall­ing on my knees, whole­heart­edly thanked Heaven that I had been granted the hap­pi­ness to live at this time.’’

Fol­low­ing this year’s An­zac Day com­mem­o­ra­tions, many won­der if off-shore rum­bles are ac­tu­ally the dis­tant sound of the war-drums start­ing to beat again.

If that is the case, I doubt very much that many young New Zealan­ders will fall to their knees in en­thu­si­asm to fight in which­ever global hot-spot boils over.

With each pass­ing An­zac Day, the num­ber of at­ten­dees at the com­mem­o­ra­tions through­out our coun­try in­creases, even as the num­ber of peo­ple who served in con­flicts over­seas de­creases.

I be­lieve that is largely be­cause peo­ple attend not just to give heart­felt thanks for what our fore­bears sac­ri­ficed for us, but to also recog­nise with grat­i­tude that we have not been dragged into an­other global con­flict in the last 70 years.

At the time of writ­ing this col­umn, my pick is that we will have seen an even greater turnout this year as we come to­gether in com­mon hope or prayer that this re­mains the case dur­ing these very un­cer­tain times.

Al­though over 100 years have elapsed, there are many sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween 1914 and to­day’s world.

There can be no doubt that sabres are rat­tling loudly, al­though of course sabres to­day are mis­siles with far more lethal pointy ends than those of old.

Then as now, there were world lead­ers who ap­peared bent on back­ing each other and them­selves into a cor­ner un­til a fight be­came in­evitable.

Then as now, many of those lead­ers failed to see, or didn’t care about, the con­nec­tion be­tween their de­sires and the ef­fect of their ac­tions on in­no­cent peo­ple.

Then as now, it is not those lead­ers who will face the guns and bombs of the en­emy.

It is the young peo­ple of the na­tions they gov­ern or rule.

What has changed sig­nif­i­cantly though is our abil­ity, as mem­bers of the pub­lic blessed to live in a demo­cratic and ed­u­cated so­ci­ety, to be in­formed on what is hap­pen­ing.

The In­ter­net of­fers an un­paral- leled op­por­tu­nity to find out what is hap­pen­ing around the world.

The trick is get­ting through the dross to find re­li­able, un­bi­ased news sources.

Now, more than ever, is the time to ques­tion what we are be­ing told.

To not ac­cept what poses as news at face value.

As the say­ing goes, truth is the first vic­tim in any war.

The young soldier I re­ferred to at the start of the col­umn wrote a more fa­mous line some years after the end of the First World War.

He said ‘‘ Make the lie big, make it sim­ple, keep say­ing it, and even­tu­ally they will be­lieve it’’.

His name was Adolf Hitler. I have a feel­ing he would feel right at home in to­day’s ‘‘fake news’’ world.

❚ Tim Cado­gan is mayor of Cen­tral Otago District Coun­cil.

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Tim Cado­gan

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