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Nerve Tonic
Arthur Davey was an ambulance driver in the evacuation to Dunkirk. Air raids interrupted several attempts to bring his convoy to the port, and he endured two days of anxious ...

Nerve Tonic

Arthur Davey was an ambulance driver in the evacuation to Dunkirk. Air raids interrupted several attempts to bring his convoy to the port, and he endured two days of anxious waiting outside the town, as the bombs seemed to fall ever closer. Finally, late in the afternoon of the second day, an officer came with instructions to move to the port, one ambulance at a time, in three-minute intervals. The officer promised that this time, there would be air cover for the embarkation. Davey described what happened next:

When we reached the quay, and drove onto the huge concrete jetty, now holed with craters, and jagged at the sides, where bombs had torn away sections of the concrete, no ship was waiting. We turned off our motors, and proceeded to wait for the ship or the bombers. After about 20 minutes, it seemed hours, had passed, about 30 planes appeared high in the sky, from seaward we thought they were our own at first, then, when they dived, we knew that the promised air protection was merely a ‘nerve tonic.’

The British soldiers apparently used the term “nerve tonic” to describe lies told in tense times to calm them down. I doubt that the practice was widespread, because such a breach of honesty would destroy a regular unit over time. Soldiers have to trust their officers and vice versa. The same is true in all organizations, including our families. It’s easy to make promises that we fail to follow up on later. We all are tempted to downplay the negative and to give hope for something good to come. However, false hope is good for no one. Sooner or later, reality must prevail. We can all deal with reality better than a loss of trust in a parent, friend, or employer.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

—Ephesians 4:25


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