How much of what goes on do we really see? I know that a large chunk of my life is never seen by people I know, and as for what goes on in my head well that can be very private. So it is with history, a book on the Cuban missile crisis will give a good account of events and documented meetings but don’t you wish you could have been a fly on the wall in JFK or Kruschev’s office?
What goes through the mind of those with the power to make huge impacts on history, how did Caesar decide he was going to cross the Rubicon, what went through Churchill’s mind as the Battle of Britain raged? To have been in the room as Einstein tidied up his theories. There are so many moments to choose from so how could you decide?
You could trivialise it all, I wish I had been in the Fox boardroom when they decided to cancel Firefly. I’d like to have known if those executives really did know what they were talking about. Maybe the moment when Steve Jobs was shown the iPhone for the first time, or the dorm room of a young Mark Zuckerberg after a meeting with rowing twins.
Then there’s the weighty, the White House on that September day, or the Kremlin as the wall fell. The Japanese Emperor’s room after Hiroshima or a bunker under Berlin. Perhaps the cell room of a South African when his guard came to tell him he was free to go.
The strange thing about modern historical moments is that they are often recorded by camera, we know what was going on the moment they caught Bin Laden, as modern leaders seem to want to let you know how they deal with big events. Memoirs and diaries will give all the lurid details about being woken up in the night to be told of some tragic events to calmly take a grip and plan a response.
This is what sets “leaders” apart from us normal folk. Firstly, they keep diaries despite trying to rule the world, and also if I was woken up at three a.m. I would either wake up panicking like a crazy person or, more likely, be so dazed I wouldn’t comprehend the enormity of the situation. Any British leader who’s first reaction wasn’t “I need a cup of tea” is not really a Brit.
Back to the question, if I was a fly on the wall when would I like to be?
I think I would have liked to have been in the Soyuz capsule with Yuri Gargarin. To be the first human to look down at our planet and know that nobody else had ever seen our fragile little rock in such a way. Being launched into space via a machine designed to carry weaponry to kill millions on that peaceful blue marble we call home. Not knowing if I could go back, if I could never tell those who sent me how important it was to survive through living and not by killing.
I would want to be there to see where the golden age of science and technology began, how it led to humanity pushing itself to its limits to get to an orbiting rock and how close we came to obliterating ourselves over a tiff between two ideologies.To know that down there is probably some kid looking up, thinking about that man in the sky. A kid who some day would grow up and cancel Firefly.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fly on the Wall.”