We’ve been watching episodes of a PBS show called My Grandparents’ War, where celebs like Helena Bonham Carter and Kristin Scott Thomas trace the histories of their grandparents’ experience in WWII. Tonight we saw one featuring Mark Rylance, and there were a couple quotes that stuck out to me. I wanted to record them before I forget them.
Mark Rylance, walking in a cemetery for war dead in Hong Kong (where, but for the grace of God / random chance, his grandfather might well have ended up), mused that he keeps hearing people talking dispassionately about war, as though it’s some kind of natural event. But, he pointed out, war is fought by people. Just people, like you and me.
Later, he met with a Japanese historian who has studied the POW camps that the Japanese ran in Hong Kong. He asked her why she chose to study the camps—a heavy question, considering some of the atrocities that had been explored earlier in the episode. She responded, “History doesn’t repeat itself. People repeat it.”
Just people, like you and me. Let’s be careful, OK?