70 years ago, May 8, 1945, the War in Europe ended in Allied victory. With VE (Victory Europe) day arrived the end of the 3rd Reich, Hitler’s Germany. Yet, the drive for territorial aggrandizement, totalitarianism, fascism, and hatred did not end with the German surrender. The world today still suffers from these fear-based attempts to control and destroy the lives of our neighbors. There is hope, though, that we can overcome fear to make a world our grandparents and great-grandparents fought for so long ago.
After Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 he made two proclamations:
- The Third Reich will last for 1000 years.
- Given 10 years, no one will recognize Germany.
He was completely wrong on the first account.
He was right on the second, but for the wrong reason.
When Hitler came to power Germany was the cultural as well as economic center of Europe. Within the 10 years that Hitler maintained power in Germany the country was torn from within and blasted from without. Hitler destroyed what was Germany, what was Europe, and much of what were the institutions that ran the Western world up to that point.
Coming to power through the greed, duplicity, conniving, and barbarous acts of thugs, want-to-bees, former heroes, and industrialists who thought they could control him, Hitler and his gang of misfits dominated Europe’s cultural center through fear, unleashing death and destruction across the face of the world, enslaving and murdering tens of millions in the horror of war and holocaust.
Let us remember how easy it is to be tempted by hate, how fear can motivate masses to atrocity, and how expensive in life and treasure it is to retrieve remnants of civilization from the fiery hell of war.
As we survey the world on May 8, 2015 we can see fear motivating support for right-wing politicians across Europe, and even across the Atlantic in the United States. We see fear maintaining the government within Russia, and dominating the elections in Israel. We see fear driving the actions of dictators and theocrats across the Middle East. Fear is a powerful weapon used by those wishing to achieve and clutch power. Fear addresses a base instinct in people to respond. Yet, fear is not policy. Fear does not subscribe to the long-arch of morality toward justice. Fear based politics will never achieve a positive outcome for the people who are driven to be fearful.
May we look across the world, and share with our neighbors a sense of hope. A sense of shared investment in this world, its peace, and the lives we can build by working together toward common aims.
We are a fragile species, currently trapped on a small rock floating through space. Fear will not get us off this rock. Fear will not allow us to continue our existence beyond the life of the Earth. Hope, realization that we’re all in this together, working together, and looking toward a shared future is what will save humanity.
On this day to remember the great sacrifice needed to end the War in Europe in 1945 let’s take a moment to remember how it was achieved. Teamwork on the part of 51 countries, brought down the fear dominated world of Hitler’s Germany. Imagine what the teamwork of 51 countries can do today to save humanity and propel our species toward a future lasting far more than 1000 years.
Have a wonderful VE day!