The Book of the Week is “Nicholas Winton’s Lottery of Life” by Matej Minac, published in 2007.
By chance, Nicholas Winton’s friend, Martin Blake suggested that Winton come to Prague instead of going on a ski vacation in Switzerland, to work on an interesting project on the eve of WWII.
Winton eventually gave up a good job in London at the Stock Exchange to rescue Czech children from the Nazis. He valued human lives more than South African gold. His belief was: “People often say that something can’t be done before they even try to do it, which is just an excuse to do nothing! Most things that seem impossible can actually be achieved by hard work.”
Winton must have enjoyed the challenge of overcoming obstacles, because the burden was on him to arrange the logistics, raise the funds and complete the paperwork.
There are a few ways that Winton’s situation is analogous to this nation’s current situation:
Winton was one of countless unsung heros during a time of multi-national turmoil. His major goal was to save lives, not to make money. Countless Americans on the “front lines” are making great sacrifices to save others– without hitting the social media to brag or push their opinions on the world. The people who truly want to help others are just doing their jobs.
Creatively, Winton did an end-run around British bureaucracy at the Home Office by founding a fictional organization to speed up glacial processes. It had to be super-discreet, though, because there were spies everywhere. Ironically, Americans have unlimited free speech through texting, email, and social media, but their every electronic utterance is recorded by the powers-that-be (who are all as politically entrenched as ever), so that communications are just as insecure as they ever were!
Obviously, Winton’s communications couldn’t always be completely honest if he was to save lives. It was wartime, after all. However, Americans with ulterior motives are pushing specific proposals that will likely benefit them financially, politically or both. Incidentally, with his overwhelming power and influence in certain circles, president Donald Trump is the new Oprah Winfrey. When he mentions a company or product, its stock or the product sells like hotcakes the same way that, when Oprah featured a book on her show, it sold like hotcakes.
Prior to vaccines, Americans accepted the fact that they might become ill or even die from diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, mumps, etc. In the last fifty years or so, money has corrupted medicine. A continuous propaganda campaign– the profit motive in the guise of life-saving treatments– has convinced Americans that it’s now inexcusable to die from disease.
Winton convinced Czech parents that everyone was in imminent danger and at least their children’s lives could be saved, as the Germans had total control of all the Czech regions by early 1939. Winton wasn’t lying when he told Czechs their lives were at risk due to wartime occupation by an evil enemy.
It’s impossible to prove that shutting down the entire United States would reduce the number of deaths from a pandemic. Especially when projected deaths have been, at best, incompetently calculated, and at worst, an object lesson in how to lie with statistics.
Clearly, WWII required there to be myths and misinformation in the media to avoid revealing state secrets to the country’s enemies. But that shouldn’t be the case with the pandemic. Yet it is.
Actually– myths and misinformation have always emanated from news sources from the beginning of time. In the last century, communications sources have only appeared to be more credible than now, because their language used to be more formal, more grammatical, and better written and formatted. The sources slanted information and got facts wrong just as often as now, due to pressure on them to get a story first, and make it entertaining and persuasive. The only slight difference is that currently, a larger percentage of content is opinions rather than information.
Winton eventually compiled a list of five thousand children to be rescued. Read the book to learn of the actual number of children he saved, what happened to them, the later fates of some of them, and what happened when a Czech documentary filmmaker found Winton about sixty years later.