Adolf Hitler, a man who openly hinted at the fate of the Jews should he come to power, got elected in Germany in the 1930s. More recently, Donald Trump, a certified ass, claimed the Presidential office. Now, if we go along with the notion that history doesn’t repeat itself but that it does rhyme, these two events are terrifying.
Consider this. Hitler, and thus the Nazis, squandered the opportunity for continued dominance. Because of a few significant, poor decisions made by Hitler and the Nazis, the Allies were able to prevail. Similarly, Trump has made and will make some poor decisions. He too will be the instigator of his own demise. But what if Hitler made good decisions? What if he had converted the Russians into accomplices and was able to focus solely on defending the Western front? What if he had not given the halt order at Dunkirk and had rendered useless the British forces? What if he had allowed withdrawals on the Russian Front and hadn’t remained obsessed with the “symbolic value” of Stalingrad? What if he had not put an end to the Blitz and had not ceased U-boat warfare just as both were on the brink of crippling success?
Supposedly, Douglas Adams said that the reason “42” is the answer to the question of life and the universe in his books is that “42” is the total number of dots on a pair of die, and that life is but a roll of them. Unfortunately, there’s truth to that, which means it is entirely possible, considering historical events and contemporary trends, for someone possessing immense depravity and undeniable competence to come to power. Because the soil of instability nourishes the roots of extremism, it is plausible that individuals, and the populace at large, will make impulsive decisions and undo all the good that has come to pass in recent decades. It’s possible too that the opposite will happen, that we will make good decisions and accrue more boons for humanity and the world at large. But from my current seat, I cannot decide which is more likely.
Are we careening towards disaster? If we are, what does it take to avert it? Can we? What should I fight for? How? What am I prepared to sacrifice, now and in the future? These are hard times, and these are hard questions to answer. But you and I cannot avoid them. We must venture something, soon, because if we don’t we may lose everything.