Friday, October 26, 2007

The War...........And Peace

First off, I want to make a statement about this post. This post has absolutely nothing to do with current global politics. This is not a political blog. This is a post about volatility and an environment we are entering that has historically led to global economic turmoil, stock market volatility and even conflict. On to the post.

"Of the tyrant, spies and informers are the principal instruments. War is his favorite occupation for the sake of engrossing the attention of the people and making himself necessary to them as their leader"
--Aristotle, over 2000 years ago

The title of this post is about the incredible documentary, The War, that has been showing on PBS over the past handful of weeks. And, a reminder that nationalism is on the rise as we have discussed quite often. As Tolstoy has told us patriotism is the political incarnation of nationalism used by leadership to manipulate their citizens. Hence the title of War and Peace for the post. ( Of course, it was also Jefferson, Madison, Einstein and many others throughout history who wrote often about this fact.)

The War is a documentary of World War II from the eyes of many American families of nearly every cultural background. Since it is a view from so many vantage points, there are many truths beyond World War II that, for the first time, are discussed. It truly is a great piece of journalism in my estimation. I'm not sure how long it will be airing but the local viewing schedules can be seen at the link above. Its airing gives me an opportunity to weave in an ancillary topic that should be very important to everyone; human rights and human dignity. A topic that indeed does have everything to do with shaping the successes or failures of economies, businesses and societies since the beginning of humankind.

I am a firm believer that, in many regards, history teaches us much more than we could ever learn through life's experiences or from a classroom. Especially when learning from historical genius. It may seem to some that I am overly critical of many country's political leadership on this blog. Or as has been commented, that maybe other cultures are just different. Now, I surely do agree that all cultures are unique but never confuse culture or people with political leadership not originating from self rule. Freedom and culture are universal truths. The thought that maybe they are just different is not a truth at all. Those believing the global democracies should appease anti-democratic leaders or anti-democratic ideals have extremely short memories.

The War not only deals with the sickness, tragedy and pathetic waste of war, man's most evil invention, but also the cultural strife of American society during World War II. With that said, I truly believe the melting pot culture of America is a primary key to its greatness and longevity. With diversity comes strife that leads to liberalization of freedoms and ground breaking rights for all peoples. With diversity comes eventual acceptance, understanding and a dynamism of culture, creativity, alternative thought processes and innovation across the entire economic and social spectrum. Or, put in simple terms the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts. In an odd way, I believe an argument can be made that as society becomes even more diverse, its potential becomes even stronger by strengthening the desire for opportunity for all. It hasn't always been that way and still isn't for everyone but self rule is the closest thing to a guarantee of eventual equal rights for all people as we see in democracies across the globe. And, with respect, acceptance and diversity, it becomes difficult for power mongers to heap hatred and unjust war upon a free society. Another reason to push for human rights and freedom for all. For, as free citizens, we embrace free thought. We are representative of every culture, have relatives of every culture, have friendships of every culture and have family roots across the globe. Or as I like to say of Americans, as a diverse family it is our God given right to argue with one another incessantly, but that is not to be confused with lack of solidarity or a crumbling of a culture. But, rather the constant transformation of society for the long term benefit of all. Some around the globe indeed do confuse what is seen on television with reality. Though imperfect, our freedom is our solidarity as is the case in every democracy.

I am passionate about human rights and civil rights for all peoples. All of humanity has a right to basic freedoms, dignities and a right to self determination. Self rule is the only way those rights and dignities can be guaranteed over the long term. Anything other than self rule is a crisis in waiting and determination left to the altruistic whim of those typically seeking to dominate their fellow man. That is a paradox indeed. The War reminds us that governments of anti-democratic ideals killed nearly 60 million of their own citizens in the twentieth century while committing countless atrocities on many others. And, killed many more than that through wars. For that, are we less vigilant for human rights and democratic reforms in repressive political structures? In our own societies? Do we believe political structures espousing anti-democratic ideals are somehow different than prior incarnations? That The War is simply a documentary from a time gone by that can never be repeated? Has humanity achieved enlightenment and eradicated the evil of war? Have power seekers some how become do-gooders? To the contrary. We see tremendous global conflict and anti-democratic ideals being forwarded on every continent today. We all hope for freedom and peace but if we are to learn from history we must be dubious.

One of the most powerfully succinct writings I have ever come across as it pertains to human rights was uttered by Martin Niemoller around the end of World War II. This is a variation on a message that has been repeated by many great leaders of freedom. His quote is generally accepted to be:
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
In other words, if one doesn't stand up to be accounted for in the rights of everyone everywhere, some day your rights will be taken from you as history has taught us since the beginning of time. That includes the rights of people we may disagree with or worse.

That is why The War and other great works of historical journalism are so important. We must never forget the past. We must never forget what those seeking unjust and repressive power are capable of without oversight, governance and accountability to the people. To become as wolves as Thomas Jefferson has told us. And, that without self rule, political structures are never to be trusted. Now, I believe in peaceful activism except where ruthless barbarians are committing heinous crimes against humanity as in Africa, unlike our founding fathers who were anything but peaceful. But, regardless we should all make every positive attempt at ensuring every opportunity for humanity's freedom. The War is a reminder of what happens when human dignity, human rights and self rule are sacrificed for whatever reason, or overlooked by free societies or even ripped from the people. Or when the world turns a blind eye to said virtues. When we have done so, the world has paid with the blood of all nations. That is why I have complete disdain for communism, fascism, kings, queens, ruling families and any self appointed leaders of any peoples. And, if for no other reason, for your personal freedoms, you should too.
posted by TimingLogic at 1:27 PM

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