- Politics and Social Issues
2016: Has the World Gone Mad?
One-hundred-and-one years ago Oscar Wilde went to jail for “indecency”, he was accused of homosexual relations with the poet Alfred Douglas. In 2001 same-sex marriage became legal in the Netherlands; 2013 the UK; 2015 in the US; and in 2016 more countries nationwide followed. -- In 2013 in Russia holding hands in public for same-sex couples became illegal.
In the year 1949 countries from all over the world united to create NATO. In 1945 the UN was formed. In 1948 The Hague Congress resulted in the creation of the European Movement International, and ten years later, in the formation of the European Union.
These unions were assembled as a remedy against the radical nationalism that had ravaged the world during WW2 and as a way to ensure that such calamity could never reoccur.
And with the understanding that our ability to stay strong and accumulate growth lays in our ability to stay together: “Unity in diversity” as the EU motto states. -- In June 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU after a long arduous campaign based on lies, oversimplifications and the recommendation that we’re better off without diversity.
In 1989 in the Soviet Union, 15 countries overthrew a totalitarian regime of authoritarianism, surveillance and violation of human rights. -- Since the year 2000 to today Russia has gradually been going back to “an increased level of human rights violations, repression of opposition parties and organizations, and an increased pressure on independent media." With even opposition parties experiencing difficulties in finding ways to get out their message due to the media being, yet again, dominated by the state and civil society being prevented from organizing protests and rallies. Flashback!
In 1987 the Berlin wall fell. -- Today, the 9th of November, 2016 the USA has a president who has pledged to build more walls. An individual who supports misogyny and racism, and has boldly made statements reminiscent of the National Socialist German Party's rhetoric before WW2.
I cannot help the internal image of Putin and Trump shaking hands over the demise of free speech, equality and human rights, congratulating each other over a “bright future” of “restoring full fledged relations” between the two countries.
I have always, maybe rather naively, thought that we are governed by intelligent men and women who knowing history well, will not only never opt to repeat it but would be extra vigilant in their efforts to avoid doing so. Call me an idealist if you want, or just plain stupid.
Today we know that some of the financial practices that contributed to the collapsing of the housing market in 2008 were also in use before the Great Depression; and that they’ve yet again been repackaged, given a new name and put back into practice!
It seems that not only is the world speeding down a road it’s already been, towards a crash it's already suffered, but that, it’s also done it before! However, if most of those events happened pretty much behind the public’s back, today we seem to be the ones behind the wheel, driving over the speed limit, hazardously, like a reckless drunk on a kindergarten road.
"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." -Edmund Burke
Yes, Germany voted for Hitler in 1934? But unlike back in the days, information is now but a click away! And in this age of information, being ill informed is a choice! And when it comes to deciding the future of your country and the world, I’d go as far as to say that choosing to stay misinformed is a crime!
However, and I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, if we consider the invention of PR (Edward Bernays) and propaganda (Goebbels: “He who controls the message control the masses.”) a bleak alternative is revealed:
Governing a population that has been systematically intellectually abused and deprived, and manipulating them into casting their vote for you, might sound extremely far fetched, but so does today’s reality of being forced to choose between bad and worse.
Is it really possible that “take our country back” supporters can’t see through the pile of oversimplification and fraud, and right down to politicians’ attempt to satisfy their own interests?
The essayist Samuel Johnson, in 1775, said: “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”
Is the world on the brink of another extreme nationalist crusade as politicians scapegoat immigrants in order to mask the real reasons behind economic downturns and political stagnation?
Last night, I went to bed wishing for the lesser evil in the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. I woke up to an episode of a really bad reality TV program, only it was real: a real farce that is playing out in our time of equality, prosperity and information. Maybe this is it – the lesser evil.
So where did we go wrong? Was it the industrial revolution; was it the rise of consumerism, was it PR and propaganda? And to really drive this propaganda point home:
More often than not, it’s not about what you say, it’s a lot more about how you say it.
Consider the following, you meet somebody who holds the secret of the universe, existence, and the meaning of life, but who is not impressive to look at, makes no lucrative promises and is a little socially awkward; next to them is their exact opposite: charming, has the gift of the gab, sweeps you off your feet with alluring pledges and feeds you the most appalling, worthless crap ever! But very eloquently and with a lot of conviction. Who would you be more likely to believe?
So is it then not possible that when The New World was first colonized and its native populace slaughtered, it was made to "look good", by throwing far-fetched words, inflated with hot air but claiming concepts, such as bravery, honour, discipline and strength? And thus further cementing the divide between "us" and "them". I wonder if Native Americans had had the resources would they have jumped to "take their country back"? I wonder if modern day immigrants, too, could adopt the same strategies would they still make good bait for egotistical political agendas?
One thing that I am unable to comprehend is the growing inability to see that fighting for the common good means building a free, united world that works for and towards its growth with compassion, curiosity, tolerance and equity; where everyone’s entitled to their own believes as long as they are not anti-humanistic or malicious.
And that through fighting to eradicate everyone and everything that disagrees with you, you’re really only fighting against yourself! That in the long run you won’t benefit from it, and neither will your children or their children.
I am not a politician, I am a human being. I have made mistakes and often make questionable choices that keep me up at night debating if I’ve done the right thing; but one thing I stand by irrevocably is “do whatever it is that your heart desires but don’t ever harm another”. Or as the bible says, “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s my utopia and it seems to me that over the last few decades we have worked hard towards its manifestation! But the events of these last six months have threatened the longevity of its existence, and that's terrifying thought. But we can oppose it! By remaining practitioners of that utopia! As J.K. Rowling pointed out on twitter last night:
So lets not swap our utopia for an ideology of separateness and hatred. We’ve starred in that horror show before, we know how it goes.
Love and peace to all.
© 2016 Irina M Wells