by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
In 1939, British singer Dame Vera Lynn made famous the song written by Ross Parker (music) and Hughie Charles (lyrics) entitled “We’ll Meet Again”:
Let’s say goodbye with a smile, dear,Just for a while, dear, we must part.
Don’t let the parting upset you,I’ll not forget you, sweetheart.
We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.
Keep smiling through, just like you always do,
‘Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.
So will you please say hello to the folks that I know,
Tell them I won’t be long.
They’ll be happy to know that as you saw me go,
I was singing this song.
After the rain comes the rainbow,
You’ll see the rain go, never fear,
We two can wait for tomorrow,Goodbye to sorrow, my dear.
The nostalgic refrain “We’ll meet again, etc.” , though it was popular in the World War II era, seems nonetheless to have an appeal even today, and perhaps sadly, increasingly so. Anyone who has listened to the news in the past year knows that it is a compilation of what the comedic “Beyond the Fringe” stage revue group satirically referred to as “news of fresh disaster”. Given the global nature of current afflictions, whether the economy or war, it is difficult if not impossible to escape the pathos of daily living.
In another sense, the ability of Dame Vera Lynn to have straddled the boundaries between the the British troops (she was known as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” – and she never lost her parents’ Cockney accent) and Buckingham Palace (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed Vera Lynn an OBE – Officer of the Order of the British Empire) lends an easiness and refinement to the sorrowful chorus. It is after all uplifting to have a dignified approach to what are often the demeaning consequences of life and living. In hard times, one has to learn to deal with things in new ways.
As the intoxicating headiness of success and prosperity change places with modesty and restraint, it does not surprise me to discover that the sensitivities of humanity have come closer to the surface, sometimes even tearfully. There is also something sobering about difficult times, something which causes one to resile from flippancy and foolishness. Life takes on a more serious tone, one which seems to command propriety and formality. It is often observed that fashions and fads repeat themselves, subject to an intervening period.
The current generation of baby-boomers has been marked by excesses and extravagance, a product apparently of the “good times”. Now, however, as the elasticity of economic growth, abundance and fortune is replaced by adversity and hard luck affecting almost everyone, there is a commensurate retraction of vulgar mannerisms and extravagant social customs, likely to return us to the reserve and sentimentality which once characterized our parents’ generation.Frankly, I do not look upon this shift as undesirable. In its plainest terms, the tough times are merely a reminder that there is more to life than a fast car and a downtown condo. Sometimes it’s good to feel good about life just because you do, and for no other reason. Without putting a religious spin on it, adversity heightens our human experience; it sets apart what is mere surplusage. Adversity also instills a quiet sophistication which softens what are otherwise the sharp edges of human behaviour.
Where life dishes out events over which we have no control, where the effects upon us are sometimes overwhelming, it is not surprising that we actually adopt a more charitable and magnanimous attitude to both ourselves and our neighbours. The effect can be quite maturing, if nothing else. The depth of our feelings also deepens our experiences, lifting us out of shallowness in general.