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August 10, 2012 at 3:59 PMComments: 4 Faves: 0

The Fear of a Modern Age

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This Author

"Our doubts are traitors,

and make us lose the good we oft might win,

by fearing to attempt."

-William Shakespeare

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.


fear3An 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. fear4These 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.

fear2There 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 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


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  • I like your idea that we all need to know what going on. But, I believe that the worry is that true honesty doesn't exist. It seems that the "good guys" worry that the "bad guys" will find out their secrets, mostly because the "bad guys" will never tell their secrets to the "good guys." So, how do people get to universal truth without leaving themselves vunerable?

  • Rex, your comment is a perfect example of the fear that I am talking about. Your question about vulnerability is the same one that runs through every humans head when they think about the truths that permeate our daily lives. Do we really want to know how poorly our economic situation is? Do we really want to know about the civil unrest peppering the eastern hemisphere?

    Today's answer tends to be a resounding no because the truth would leave us with a feeling of guilt about how good we have it. More importantly, that truth would mean that we are now involved, even in a small way and that involvement would imply culpability. If we all new what was really going on, we would be faced with the decision to make a difference and that difference would open us up to the opportunity of losing all we hold dear.

    That fear of losing all we love for the good of an entire species is more than most can bear, or even begin to fathom and those who do know the truth use that fear to continually divert attention away from global understanding. It is, quite literally, the oldest way to gain and keep control.

    Thanks Rex.

  • I still believe the bomb was a necessary evil. The Japanese were raised on the belief of Bushido and they weren't going to surrender without the amazing show of force we had. We would have invaded mainland Japan and moved door to door killing Japanese women and children. As well as their Soldiers on their turf. We all know invading mainland Japan would got many more of our boys, Fathers, teachers, Husbands, etc a ride home in a pine box. Instead we dropped two bombs that did terrible amounts of instant damage, and unfortunately significant amounts of long term damage, but these bombs also ended the war within two weeks of their falling.

    Invading mainland japan would have cause more deaths on both sides and way more long term PTSD cases that weren't as "well" treated as they are today. We could have had GIs see little Japanese children kamikazing American Marines with grenades, or GIs bayoneting civilians who fight to the death to save their Emperor. Instead our servicemen never had to endure those pains and they never saw the main land at all.

  • While I agree that the Japanese possess a certain flare for determination Kage, it would not have mattered. We all love to focus on the foot soldiers that fight these wars, but, in the larger scheme of global conflict, they are nothing more than pawns being moved across a board.

    That being said, the war was over. The Japanese had no support to fall back on, and with this position comes the understanding that defeat is an inevitability. This is where we come to the pivotal decision, drop the A-bomb to ensure that they never rise again (massive mistake) or use the science to create endless renewable energy for the entire world?

    When weighed against the lives lost in World War II, the decision to increase the death toll by creating the ultimate weapon of mass destruction was foolish. The deaths caused by World War II became a little less meaningful when that bomb was dropped. If we could have used the science to bring about global unity, clean energy, and self-sustainability, then the lives spent would have meant something more than just a bitter victory.

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