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Lest we forget...

“The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.”


So said William Golding in his novel, Lord of the Flies.  He tells the story about a group of innocent school boys stranded on an island during WWII.  Without rules or adults, they have to develop their own society, and they don’t do a very good job of it.  Golding’s point is that society, without laws, is savage.  


I just finished a WWII novel, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, that exposes the ruthless culture created by Hitler.  Taking advantage of a devastated post-war country, he removed the mores of society- kindness, understanding, empathy - from the German culture, gave the war-weary people something to hate, and almost took over Europe with his band of Nazis.


You’d think we’d learn something from that. 


You’d also think we wouldn’t forget what happens to people when the rules and laws that are supposed to protect civilization are removed.  After all, it was only 80 years ago that Normandy began to right the wrongs of the Hitler culture of hate that rolled through Europe, killing and destroying everything in its path. According to the Washington Post, over 11 million Jews and others were murdered by Nazis in Hitler’s quest to conquer the world and turn it into a pure Aryan society. And he adhered to neither his country’s laws nor those of the civilized world while doing so. 


The ’90’s brought  the war in Bosnia, Croatia, and Herzegovina - an attempt by Milosevic to free the Serbian Orthodox after the breakup of Yugoslavian.  It’s another example in modern history of an authoritarian leader spouting the ideals of nationalism and all the lawless actions that go with it.   According to the Guardian, his criminal quest cost 250,000 lives, in addition to thousands of evacuations, and billions of dollars in damage.


The 1994 Rwanda Genocide tried to cleanse the country of Tutsis by the Hutus. According to BBC, 800,000 were slaughtered.  Again, the ethnic cleansing adhered to neither international rule nor national law. 


We have a front row seat to  the  war in Ukraine, brought about by an authoritarian dictator who says the country belongs to Russia and has been infiltrated by Nazi ideology that is corrupting the Russians living there. According to the BBC, US officials estimated the number of Ukrainians killed so far at 70,000 and wounded at 120,000.


All of these wars were fueled by the heinous ideal of nationalism, ethnic cleansing, or simply blaming some group for the evils of the world. And all  were orchestrated by a merciless leader who tossed laws out like yesterday’s trash and replaced them with his own sense of right and wrong. 


We watch as Netanyahu and his storm of IDF soldiers create the same culture of hate that eliminates the need for rules.  They have already misplaced millions of Palestinians in the name of justice, and there seems to be no end in sight to the famine and bloodshed in their quest to vindicate last August’s attack by Hamas.   According to CNN, over 15,000 deaths in this war are those of children.  Evidently, in Netanyahu’s world, one vindicates deaths by killing more people. 


So where is this “understandable and lawful world” Golding spoke of?


The U.S. has a Presidential candidate who vows revenge by purging the justice system of those who do not agree with him. He promises retaliation for those who have spoken against him.  He pledges to silence news media that dare to expose him for his views, his actions, and his words. 


He speaks about the devastation caused by those who have come into this country and are “not like us” - his veiled statement that supports Nationalism even though we are a country of countless ethnicities and religions.  It’s what used to make us great- before Trump turned it into what he considers a fatal flaw. 


Nationalism has been a battle cry throughout history by those authoritarian wannabes looking to capitalize on fear by spreading hate. It neither considers justice nor laws and follows blind indifference to humanity in its quest for power. 


I have no delusions that those who blindly follow a man promising  to eliminate the justice system will reconsider the felon they want to elect.  Nope- those people are already too baked into the cult to rescue. 


This is for those of us who know history and realize that it keeps repeating itself because we don’t fight hard enough to keep it from doing so. 


 “The world, that understandable and lawful world,…” really is slipping away. 


Just what are we going to do about it?

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