As with many of my friends my early days were affected by the fact that England, where I lived, was involved in a horrific war. My father was called up for service and was in the air force as part of ground troops. As soon as the troops moved forward he was part of the group which moved in, in Germany, to clear the ground for an airstrip to fly ammunition and supplies in to support them. Frightening as it must have been for him, it was equally bad for my mother who was not only aware of the danger he was in but knew that there was a good chance that either he would not return or would have horrific injuries. This unknown was one of the unwritten parts of the war.

As a small child I knew nothing of this. All I knew was that my mother worked hard to try to supplement her soldier husband’s meagre pay with whatever she could find to do, in her case sewing, and I didn’t see much of my father. My memories are of the camaraderie which was in our community at the time with people being there for each other, including sharing a beautiful humour whenever they could find it in the community. They were together as one.

I am reminded of this by the current display of unity, particularly in Europe, over the refugee crisis there. Suddenly borders are down and hearts and wallets and government coffers are opening up to help fellow humans in need. What a pity that it seems to take a crisis before we as humans stop being obsessed with our own small problems, needs and wants and look at those around us and the common good.

I think many of us were hoping that climate change, which threatens the planet we all share, would help us to pull together as a world but this is too personally distant for most people to get involved even at a minor level. It is through seeing more personal problems, such as the little boy who drowned, that we seem to get motivated.

What lessons can we take from this? The current crisis will pass, just as wars do, and we will all settle back into our mundane lives. Our news sources will once again be filled with murders, rapes, shootings and wars in distance places. Is there any way we could continue to pull together in unity to try to make to make our planet a unified place where we all pull together for the common good, and survival?

Meanwhile we need to remember that the people currently moving across Europe are not doing it from choice. Many of them will probably hope to return ‘home’ one day in spite of the mess and devastation they will find, just as those involved in the two great wars, and other minor clashes did and do. We are currently putting massive resources into trying to live on Mars. Would we take the unacceptable behaviours we are showing on this planet with us? Let’s practise pulling together here first.