One of the nodes on E2 wonders whether anyone still cares about Adolph Hitler now that it has been more than half a century.
You bet I care!
Like most Everythingians I was born after Hitler's death. Not long after--five years to be exact--but after nonetheless. I have not experienced the horrors of World War II (even though just about everyone around me did).
That does not mean I do not care. That does not mean I should not care. That does not mean I do not need to care.
When I grew up to be a school boy and learned how to read, I saw a poster everywhere, a poster with the picture of a fist and the words Never more!
The poster was meant to serve a double purpose:
Indeed, I was born not just five years after the end of World War II, I was born just two years after the rise of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. And yes, I was born in Central Europe. Right in the middle of it all.
While the government was raising hell about all the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazi, they wasted no time committing their own atrocities.
People disappearing without a trace. Why, my own uncle, only about ten years older than me, was placed into a labor camp mining for uranium for having been a Nazi collaborator. He was put there without trial, why even try nasty people? It took several years before someone noticed his young age and figured out he had been a little boy during the Nazi era and simply could not have been a collaborator. Oops! My uncle was released from the camp.
By the way, I did not know about that until many years later. Not until I was an adult did my family tell me about it. I guess it was too dangerous to let a naive child know. What if I talked about it to a stranger and the stranger would report it? I myself could have vanished without a trace, or perhaps my parents could. So they did not tell me.
Then I grew up. I graduated from High School, then went on to college. I graduated that as well, and worked as a clinical psychologist in Bratislava. By then, the Nazi were just history to many people around me. But the atrocities did not end.
I wanted to be a priest. But due to religious persecution that was not an option. Not legally at least. I had to study theology underground. I had to travel to another country to be ordained. In utmost secrecy. If the government found out, I could be killed. Tortured first, then killed. That was a little over twenty years ago.
Finally, at the age of 29 I left my home and lived first in Austria, then in Rome, now in the US. I guess I left just in time. Only about six months later the news spread out that a man was brutally murdered in his own bathtub, in his Bratislava apartment, by the Communist secret police.
Guess what! I was in his apartment almost every day before I left. He was my teacher. I was, for all practical purposes, his assistant. I did not know back then he was a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church! I just knew he could help me become a priest. No doubt the secret police had noticed my daily visits to his apartment. Had I not left the country, I might have been murdered right along with him!
That was about twenty years ago. Many Everythingians were not born yet, many were, but most lived in a different part of the World, enjoying their freedom.
So, what does all this have to do with caring about Hitler? After all, Hitler did not send my uncle to the uranium labor camp. And Hitler certainly did not murder my Cardinal friend.
That is precisely the point. We tend to demonize Hitler. We tend to think of him as something other than a human being. We tend to think of him as an exception. We tend to think of him as an anomaly. We tend to think of him as a one-in-a-history event.
But let's face it! Hitler was not unique. He was not a demon. He was not an exception. He was not an anomaly. He is not a historic curiosity.
He was not the first (ever heard of Atila or Vlad the Impaler or ...) nor was he the last! Think of Stalin. Think of Pol Pot. Think of Saddam Hussein.
The truth is Hitler was a human being like you and me. He was made of the same biomatter as you and me. He was moved by the same psychological phenomena as you and me.
That means that, yes, there is a piece of Hitler inside each and every one of us, including you and me!
The Buddha taught about suffering being caused by ignorance, craving, unchecked desires. We all are ignorant. We all crave. We all desire this and that, and often fail to keep those desires in check.
Hitler is the prime example of suffering caused by ignorance, craving, and unchecked desire.
But he is not the only one:
- Every time anyone makes a racial remark, even in the form of a joke, that is Hitler speaking.
- Every time anyone is intolerant toward gays, atheists, Christians, Jews, redheads, or anyone different, that is Hitler speaking.
- Every time anyone wants to impose his own morality, his own value system, his own beliefs and convictions on anyone else, that is Hitler speaking.
Hitler is not an exception. Hitler is in each one of us. And if we are not aware of that, if we do not keep our own Hitler within in check, each one of us can easily cross that fine line between a decent human being and an ogre, and not even notice!
So, do I care about Adolph Hitler more than half a century later? You bet I care!