Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How Hitler affects your life today

"The greater the man, the greater the courtesy."
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, British poet (1809–1892)

Tennyson lived in a time when men aspired to be great. History books, television programs and even internet sites that offer quotations provide abundant evidence that great men did roam the earth in those days. Some greatly influenced how the history of their people and others unfolded.

Since the end of the Second World War and the death of Adolf Hitler, one would be hard pressed to find consensus on the greatness of any man.

That's not to say that Hitler was great. He was powerful, influential, memorable, anything but great.

Did something change during the time of world prominence of Hitler and his less appreciated but equally genocidal Soviet counterpart Stalin?

Hitler used the media to twist the minds of his followers, turning them into murderers and traitors to the values of their own people. Several examples of massive genocide in the world since his time show that his was taken as an example. In some countries, such as the United States, almost all of the mass media are owned by members of one political party. They learned.

Before Hitler people had heroes. After Hitler, people turned to false heroes, movie stars, on whom to spread their attention and adulation.

As there is room for only a few movie stars at the top, lesser known actors had to do outstanding things to be noticed. Beauty was enhanced, behaviour was exaggerated to the point of being anti-social, wealth was exhibited ostentatiously as if it were everything that was important.

They were noticed. Others, seeking to supercede them, went further. Their viewers became followers and imitators. Read the front page of any daily newspaper today to see how life imitates art, the more extreme the better. Reality TV shows and star-gossip programs keep viewers up to date daily with the most extreme behaviours of the stars.

On the political scene, national leaders pride themselves on how much they can irritate the leaders or governments of other countries. In some cases, they find excuses to invade those countries on some pretext that never holds up under scrutiny. Alternatively, they exercise economic power over other countries.

In developing countries, those with little power but great aspirations find their own ways to be noticed, some even choosing suicide bombing as their way to attract at least short term attention. Others choose crime, believing that money will answer their prayers for recognition.

In how many well known people of today do you find courtesy?

Wherever you go in public today you find people who believe that courtesy is a sign of weakness, a sign they have no intention of showing to anyone.

Yet courtesy thrives in places where people are happy with their lives and where they respect the others of their community, their country and the world.

Perhaps we should stress courtesy as a value in our families and our communities, instead of power, money and pretentiousness. More people might find their way to contentment with their lives. And fewer would accommodate themselves to bitterness.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to show the difference.
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