The Fear of a Modern Age
"Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt."
In this week, 67 years ago, America unleashed a wave of man-made destruction, the likes of which had never been seen, upon the Japanese landscape; adding 225,000 deaths to the well over 70 million already dead in the Second Great War.
I should say right now, throughout this entry I will be talking about Adolf Hitler and the many atrocities brought on by his ideals. If this is in any way offensive to you, I recommend you stop reading, for I will not stand on propriety during my discussion.
Traditionally, I have spent this week deep within my own musings on human behavior and motivation, but this week has been much different. I was struck during a conversation with my future wife (as is so common...thank you my love) with the idea that we may still be drowning in the pervasive nature of World War II.
An entire generation of young men and women had their lives irrevocably altered by the Second Great War. Because of war time conscription and the devastating effects of modern military equipment, millions of families were torn asunder, countless relics of cultures past were destroyed across the globe, and, most importantly, a profound sense of fear settled deep into the more instinctual portion of humanities collective consciousness. A fear that remains to this day.
In order to understand how this happened we must first look at how it came about. Why was Hitler allowed to come to power? Was the destruction of 225,000 lives worth it? Do the people have the right to know the "why" behind any decision?
The answer to the first question is extremely important and, in my mind, holds a truth as to why the fear caused by this war still exists in the mind of modern civilization.
Merely a man...
I have always held a great amount of interest in Adolf Hitler. More specifically, how it was he came to be who we fear today. His very name evokes fear and, by extension, a great amount of hatred from those who know very little of why their fear exists, other than his hunger for power at any cost.
The truth behind the power of Adolf Hitler comes not in the form of some hidden hatred or insatiable drive, but the people who elected him.
Germany was in a bad way after the First Great War. Their former enemies were asking for reparations and the German mark quickly became worthless. It was in this time that Hitler saw his opportunity to grasp the power he had always dreamed of, and grasp he did. After an initial failed military coup that landed him in prison, Hitler won his power through political maneuvering (and masterful propaganda) and was eventually voted into office by the very people he would lead to destruction.
The very concept of this is what I always get caught up on. The German people saw him as their best hope at recovery. They thought Adolf Hitler was their one great hope.
The Atomic Age
Fast forward to the end of the war and America's decision to unleash untold horrors upon the world. To this day there are those that would still argue that dropping the atomic bombs was necessary, but it was not so. We dropped them for vengeance, the wounding of our pride, the bitter frustration and agony found at the end of battle.
The combination of Hitler's insatiable hatred of the Jewish people and the dropping of the bombs has left us scarred across the ages. For current generations, history books and legends speak untold horrors of concentration camps, acid showers, deathly beatings, and mysterious experimentation by men of power. Weighed against the dropping of atomic power, these events seem to serve as a justification and we sleep very well at night comforted by the the blanket of our ignorance.
A Fear to Behold
The truth is, these acts weigh heavily upon us in the form of fear, both internal and external. These bloody choices were made by human beings no different than any of us. We fear what we are capable of and, by extension, we fear what everyone else is capable of (the very basis of the Cold War that followed). This fear drives us to recoil at the thought of a Hitler or Oppenheimer rising again among us. Our fear has led us to silence when we should be heard, to turning blind eyes as our freedoms slip away.
All around us the structures built upon the Great Wars are failing and we hear only party lines from those who are supposedly leading us...thus, the third question: Should we know what is really going on?
A Discretionary Tale
The fear of a simple person rising to power can not be avoided by governmental bodies when examples like Hitler permeate our history. I understand this fear. Hell, there are even times when I agree with the "need to know" policy, but it can not last.
There are almost 7 billion humans that occupy this planet, and only a very, very small percentage of them have any idea of the truths that govern it. I say it's time for that to change. As a species, we are in a bad way and withholding knowledge will only make it worse. Full disclosure should never be a political policy, it should be a universal truth...an unwritten law. Unity can only occur when we begin to realize we are one in the same, separated only by the borders of our mind.
"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." -Albert Einstein