The other day, I caught myself whistling “Deck the Halls” in the school corridor. I stopped half way through, when a memory from the 1970s struck me.
It was 40 years ago, yet it seems like yesterday. I was living in London, working in an open office, designing circuitry for a new telephone exchange. One of my older colleagues was drinking a cup of tea when he suddenly began convulsing. He put his cup down and ran out of the office. I had no idea what was going on.
I later learned he was having a panic attack, from PTSD. Someone’s whistling in the corridor reminded him of the German V1 rockets. These rockets reigned terror on London and south east England, killing thousands and injuring many more. They were known for their whistling sound, followed by a moment of silence as the motor stopped and then the explosion.
When stress and violence are meted out, we have no idea what the impact will be over the long term. Whistling may be a trivial act for some, but it had unforeseen consequences for my former colleague. What else do we do innocently that hurts others?
No more bombs, whether they’re bombs of deceit, or bombs of hypocrisy. From now on I’ll send boxes of roses and kindness to my friends and acquaintances. Explosions of understanding and love.
I’m not sure if I’ll whistle at work again; there are many other ways to share joy. Maybe next time I’ll try singing.