A never-ending field. A sea of red poppies. And a ring of occupied toilets right in the middle of it. The idea of a circle of men on toilets playing cards and talking might seem odd or humorous to some. (or maybe even horrifying). However, to the characters of All Quiet on the Western Front, it is a luxury. They care about nothing but they fact that they are getting some quality time to enjoy with their friends. Their experiences in war have caused them to realize there are thing much more horrifying than each other’s bodies. This scene holds a strong message about the horrors of war and the effect they have on soldiers, but it also says something about everyday life and our everyday insecurities.
When the men of All Quiet on the Western Front first joined the army, they were embarrassed to use the general’s latrines. Like many, they were afraid of what others would think of them. However, as they fought in the war and went to battle, they saw things that most would hope to never see. Now, they have come to recognize how insignificant the things they worried about before were. They realized that having time to enjoy with friends was much more important than any loss of privacy could ever be, and that in the end, it didn’t really matter.
I too learned a similar lesson about self consciousness and feeling embarrassed. When I first started playing water polo, I felt pretty nervous suiting up for the first time, and I was having doubts about my decision to go to practices. It wasn’t that I was afraid or ashamed or anything, it was just…weird.
However, after a while of practicing, I realized a stunning truth: nobody cared. Everyone was so nervous feeling weird about themselves that nobody thought about other people. I started to enjoy practices more, made great friends, and found something I loved to do. By overcoming my misguided fears, I was able to enjoy the things that really mattered.
With all of our insecurities and anxiety, we often find ourselves worrying about what others will think of us, and allow our fears to hold us back. So often we worry about what others think of us that we often overestimate how much they actually care. We find ourselves fearing the little things. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Even those who might mind are too busy worrying about themselves to have time to judge others. When we find ourselves worrying about things that don’t matter, we lose sight of the important things, and let our fears hold us back from doing what we want to do.
This is increasingly important in a society where being “different” is frowned upon. People need to stop worrying about being different and achieve what they want to. Or maybe just spend some time with their friends on the toilet. Just stop worrying about what people think. Well anyway, I’ll leave you an uplifting comic on the subject.-CW