Friday, July 22, 2016

I appreciate history more now.

I used to wonder
if there were 'normal' people in German society
preceding the Nazis and WWII;
people working hard,
meeting friends for drinks and dinner,
going to the theater,
listening to music,
being consumed by grief over personal losses,
having babies,
raising children,
paying bills,
worrying about aging parents,
complaining about their arthritis and the weather,
trying not to obsess about getting older;
in short, 
people going about the business of living ordinary lives.

I used to wonder if any were appalled and dismayed
 by what they were hearing and seeing in their country -
maybe a country they no longer recognized as their own,
as neighbors were demonized,
forced to wear stars that labeled them 
as 'foreign',
as 'alien';
as truth was manipulated into lies 
and as fear was disseminated by those with access 
to media and unformed minds,
convincing them that 'they', 
the 'others',
were to blame for all that was wrong in their country;
convincing them that those in power
were out of touch and out of ideas;
convincing them that a buffoonish, charismatic, odd looking little man
was the savior that would end all their struggles,
that he alone had all the answers -
all they had to do was 'trust and believe in him';
that he was their only hope
in a changing and frightening world.

History repeats itself.
I never appreciated the reality and truth of that saying until now.

I never understood how 'normal' German citizens stood by 
and 'let' their country be overtaken by such a malignant force;
never understood why there wasn't more resistance and opposition
at the start of their downward slide.

We can say "Not on our watch".
We can vote.
We can petition.
We can make our voices heard.

But, dare I ask,
what if there aren't enough 'we' to make a difference?

History repeats itself - 
and now I know that 'normal' folks can find themselves caught in a current,
unable to fight against the tide;
now I know how evil gets clothed as patriotism, faith
and relief from powerlessness.

This is the most fearful I've been in my adult life -
and with my personal history -
that's saying something.

I appreciate history more now
because now I know -
and I wish I didn't.

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