From an article by Caroline Lucas, the first Green Member of Parliament in the UK, in the Guardian:
The new report – entitled The New Home Front – looks at the wartime experience of those on the “home front” in Britain and the lessons we can learn in facing today’s threats from climate change and the looming energy and resources crisis.
What struck me most about the report was how many positive – and at times inspiring – lessons we could learn from the wartime generation. People put up with so much disruption and deprivation because they knew there was no alternative, and because they believed society would emerge stronger at the end of the war.
For example, evidence suggests that the vast majority households supported rationing, because it was fairer than the alternative of restricting food consumption through prices. Small individual action added up to a massive contribution: collecting food scraps – which due to rationing were nothing like the amount of food waste Britain produces today – was enough to feed over 200,000 pigs. And while people had to forgo some pleasures, such as country drives, attendances at theatres and other amusements rose.
Meanwhile, despite rationing, nutrition improved and infant mortality fell sharply. The social change that wartime impositions such as rationing and billeting of evacuees brought about laid the foundations for reform of education, the welfare state and the creation of the National Health Service.
It would be wrong to glamorise the second world war. But it would also be wrong to ignore the experiences and wisdom of those who lived through it. That’s why, as a follow-up to this report, we’re launching a national campaign to bring the generations together and see how their insights can be applied here and now. Over the coming months, we’ll be finding ways to bring this wisdom into one place and make it available in a new report.