Living well with solitude – Brothers and Sisters in arms

Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) wrote Brothers in Arms. The idiom “brother/sister/comrade in arms” refers to those who are absolutely bonded together in a shared cause.

Written during the 1982 Falklands conflict, Knopfler wrote about a soldier who is dying on the battlefield, surrounded by his colleagues, who remain with him until he passes. Through “Brothers in Arms” he looks at the folly of war and those who fight them. He was quoted as saying to the BBC: “We’ve got just one world, but we live in different ones. It’s just stupid, it really is. We are just foolish to take part in anybody’s war.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu4oy1IRTh8

My daughter was a small baby during the Falklands war. I clearly remember being in Woolworths in Evesham with her as a baby-in-arms watching with horror on a TV monitor a report about the sinking of the General Belgrano* while people all around me shouted and applauded. I was horrified at people taking pleasure at the injury and deaths of fellow human beings. (*ARA General Belgrano was an Argentine Navy light cruiser in service from 1951 until she was sunk at the beginning of May 1982 with the loss of 323 lives.)

Marina Hyde has today written very powerfully in the Guardian exhorting us not to turn this horrific coronavirus scenario into an imaginary war: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/07/horror-coronavirus-real-imaginary-war-britain 

Marina writes eloquently about the inappropriate war-like language that is currently being used as we work through the coronavirus pandemic. She even commented on Dominic Raab saying yesterday that the PM is a “fighter”. Indeed, as she says, war-like language is also regularly used in scenarios where an individual is suffering from a terminal illness. Its use is just as inappropriate, she argues.

The use of language does matter. We don’t “fight” illness be it COVID-19, cancer or lupus or whatever. We are not engaging in a battle with a physical illness. With support and help, with appropriate medical interventions, we work with the condition, helping our body adjust, come to terms with it, weave it and its impact into our own individual rich tapestry that represents “us”. A tapestry of vibrant colours, textures, experiences and which uniquely represents us as an individual.

NHS frontline workers are all indeed at the moment “brothers and sisters in arms” – because they are absolutely bonded together to do their very best to help patients be kept alive through the worst impact of COVID-19 (there is as yet, no treatment). In Critical Care, their care and ventilation of a patient is to ensure they arrange the “breathing” for that patient and allow their body to begin, if it can, to recover from the effects of the virus that has set their immune system into a hugely damaging mission of self-harm to that person.

Every NHS healthcare worker is front line, since everyone they meet may also have COVID-19. They and all the other essential workers who are helping care for us, those who are ensuring we have food, water, utilities, and so on are all members of our families, our friends, our communities …. so together we really are indeed “Brothers and sisters in arms”, bonded together to find our way through these very tough times in whatever role we can each play.

Not at war, but united in finding our way through and beyond the pandemic.

#StayHome #ProtectourNHS #SaveLives

Stay safe, stay well, stay in touch x

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