politics

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons learned from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

Every day when they were zapping through the 30 TV channels offered to them they would see Hitler documentaries. They had gone through the 20th century in Germany for what felt 3 years now. First they were studying it in their history lessons in 10th grade. Then they were studying different ideologies during their philosophy courses taking a deep dive into utilitarism, striving the so called social darwinism. Then they got to know how the mothers and fathers of the "Grundgesetz" (basic law) were implementing it to make sure things like the third reich won't ever happen again just to study the 20th century from beginning to end again in thirteenth grade.


A few weeks back I attended the ceremony for the Shimon-Peres-Price, when it was given to a project I’ve been part of. To be honest I did not know a lot about Shimon Peres but he’s a particularly interesting person. He used to be one of the first advocates for bilateral relationships between Israel and Germany. He was one of the first to say that should work together but never forget what happened. Germany is living a culture of embracing its past, of making sure that nobody forgets what our ancestors did. I do not know why but for the past 12 years, basically since I became old enough for such conversations, I overheard adults complain about just that. Adults in my family, friends of the family, strangers whenever one was bringing up that topic. Maybe they inherited this behavior from their ashamed parents, but maybe they’re just tired of hearing it just like I’m tired of hearing the same complaints from my grandmother every week. If so this raises the question: How do you remember and remind others of the dark ages of history?

On Tyranny - Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century answers this question perfectly. When I started reading this book, I thought it was just more of the same, but it gave me a lot of new insides. The author starts every chapter with a thesis of how to oppose those who seek to confuse the people, divide and reign and eventually set up a dictatorship of one way or the other. Every of theses theses is then supported by examples from the past and connections to the present are drawn. 

Especially the last chapter was interesting to me: The author describes two different ways of making politics: One announcing that things are inevitable while the other praises the good old times. While we’ve seen the first of them for quite some time, the latter one is rising in nearly every of the biggest economies: The U.S., France, the UK, Germany, we’ve seen it in Hungary and Poland and that is neglecting the other major players in the world such as Russia and China. How is the president saying he’s going to bring the US back into the good old times of 80 years ago? How is anyone thinking they can do this? How was Merkel able to say what the government did during the financial crisis was „alternativlos“ (inevitable)? How is the AfD, the „Alternative für Deutschland“ (Alternative for Germany), an alternative?

I could go on a multiple hours long rant right now, but I'll save that up for later. The question I was asking before is still open at this point: How can we remember this time and remind others in order to make sure no such thing ever occurs again? I think this book puts a great perspective on the topic as a whole. There is simply no judgement. There is no emotion. I think even the most ignorant person in the world could read this and draw their own conclusion. And it is a fairly short read of less than 150 pages in a small form factor. Go get it and read it, because you should

Violence

After the most recent events in #Orlando (NY Times Article) I can't wrap my head around it once more. Once more each and every one is including the families and friends of the victims of another shooting to their preyers: Even though just a few of us know what it feels like to loose part of our family in an attack, we mourn their deaths.

As always after such a tragedy debates are rising. Donald trump did the obvious thing and repeats his call for the ban os Muslim Migration. Obama has made his points clear about his stance on gun rights after shootings before and he does it once again

Unnecessary to say, that I don't agree with Trump and that I believe in more strict gun laws. I mean I get it, I get pissed of every time someone tries to lessen my freedom even if I just get a piece of advice that I didn't ask for, but seriously: Why the hell are you guys so stubborn when it comes to your right to wear a gun, but don't do anything about the NSA?

But I don't think that this will solve the problem. It's a cure that tries to fight off the symptoms instead of curing the issue. As @HKesvani pointed out in his post about an existing queer Muslim community: It is assumed that most terroristic attacks are executed in order to achieve personal significance.

There is a couple of things that need to be addressed when speaking about this:

I can only speak for myself, but I am sure, that this applies for others as well: I have felt strong anger and the urge to destroy stuff and hurt people on a psychological or physical level. Like most people I can contain myself and don't follow these urges, but I have to admit, that I feel it, so I'll assume, it's part of human nature. I got much better in coping with those feelings when I learned to accept them using meditation.

We are indeed living in great times. Our knowledge in science and medicine grows every day. At least in Europe nobody really needs to be homeless or fear hunger. 

But then again the gap between the poor and the rich is growing. It's not as bad as it is in third world countries but people are afraid of loosing what they have. Especially in Germany I have seen politicians blame almost every group over the course of years. First it was the unemployed who were just to lazy. At our times it's the Greek who are way to lazy. All the time they are blaming someone else in order to find excuses to not improve schools, fund more teachers, policemen, rebuild our rotten streets or do whatever would be needed. In other words: a human being is just worth something, if he/she/they work and if you don't do anything "productive" or "useful", you are merely more than a parasite. 

On the other hand we are automizing more and more of our work. Basically we're building machines that do the easy work, that can be automated. The work for which we needed lesser educated workers just a few decades or even years ago. It won't take a lot of time until we just don't have any work for them anymore. 

Each and everyone of us needs some kind of sense in live. There is studies that show that religious people tend to have less mental illnesses which is connected to the need of people for a deeper meaning. Even the well recognized Amen Clinics, which are doing a lot of scientific work, include "spiritual" well being to the equation

Most people in our society find a sense of purpose in their work, but what will they do if you take it away from them? People also think that they can't change anything through politics anymore and all the sudden they are feeling paralyzed in a world they don't understand because it is to complex.

So what do you do when you feel powerless? The bottom line is that we need to have those people integrated in our society. They need to find a purpose, because they won't be able to accept people who are different from them as long as they need to find someone whom to pledge guilty and whom to fight, because they are not satisfied with their lives. It's not a problem of the LBGT community, it's a problem of the society as a whole and those resentments and feelings will always erupt and discharge on any minority.