Milan Vodicka: Learning from the lessons of 2017
Another year, this one designated 2017, is gone. What did it bring? A cultural shift brought about by the elections of 2016? Where are we now — and where should we go?
Oh yes, there are always “positives” and “negatives.” Such is the “nature of reality” — the glass is always half full or half empty, take your pick. Just thinking these classifications and judgments could lead one to deep philosophy. I shall stick with a simple story of “reality” versus “perceptions.”
Let me start with “history repeats itself.” In abstract, the lessons of 2017 played themselves out in the past, only with different labels and names. The labels and names are superficial — what is crucial is the meaning behind them. The center stage is taken by the values embodied not in the labels’ descriptive word, but in their meaning. In 2017 politics, could the meaning be polarization and greed?
Try to explain to me — or to yourself — the difference between “Deutschland uber alles” (Germany above all) and “America first.” You see, in both there is “us” and there is “them.” And, of course, we are better — hence we are “above all” and “first.” It also defines “us,” the good and noble ones, and “them,” ultimately “the enemies.” Who said, “free press is the enemy of the people?”
The “fight” against enemies is what always held and holds the clan of devotees of the doctrine “we first” together. The “enemies” have to be labeled and described. Typically, they fall into the internal and external categories. So, remember — for the Nazis they were Jews and “Bolsheviks” (communists); for the communists they were imperialists, revisionists, revanchists, kulaks (rich farmers), capitalists and their spies.
Those classes of “enemies” were minorities in those respective social systems of Nazism and communism. As such, their potential role and aspirations were to be totally ignored, in the extreme destroyed. These societies made no secret of the fact that they were dictatorships.
Why am I writing about this? Because the developments of 2017 in the USA remind me of that. No, not a true dictatorship yet, but an authoritarian government system emerged. “Alternative facts” and “fake news” took the stage, along with totally ignoring the minority party by the “majority.” Just look at the vote for the “legislative victory” of the “tax reform.” Strictly along party lines. The “enemies” are well known — immigrants, terrorists, Muslims, unions, free press.
The deep irony is that the regimes of authority and dictatorships always align themselves with “the people.” We know about the People’s Republic of China … In the USA, we now have “will of the people” electing and supporting sex offenders and serial liars. Their “truth” is the holy truth. As long as they have a power to put it in action, they will do it. Everything else be damned, even the true will of the people. And, especially, of the minorities and their enemies! Including the rest of the world, too! After all, climate change is a “hoax!” America first!
Enough of that, where are the positives? Within the people.
It is amazing to witness the resiliency of America. The good hearts of volunteers who seem to run just about everything. From state parks, to making quilts for firefighters, to manning kitchens, to helping our (more than limping) healthcare facilities. Volunteers are shaping the dialogue within our society — be it about the environment, healthcare, or any other social issue.
There are good and honest people in the media and the press. This is so important.
To perceive clearly — it is a fundamental challenge. For everyone, now and throughout the times. For the 2018 elections. Are we capable of it?
My best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2018!
Milan Vodicka, Ph.D. has been a Nevada County resident since 1978.
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