A Vision for Our Country
Modified on: October 31, 2019
This is what we are up against:
“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible, world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything is possible and that nothing was true. The mixture in itself was remarkable enough, because it spelled the end of the illusion that gullibility was a weakness of unsuspecting primitive souls and cynicism the vice of superior and refined minds. Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness….”
– from The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), by Hannah Arendt
It is chilling to read prophecies, especially when they are written as histories of a by-gone era by indisputably rational thinkers. Hannah Arendt fled the rise of Nazism first to France, then to the United States. Once here she worked to help other European Jewish refugees find safe haven in her new country, only to see our own government close its borders to people who faced otherwise certain doom.
To this callousness, to this cynicism, we are all susceptible. The narcissistic and oppressive will gladly numb us to our humanity, for their own benefit. And here we are.
Then sings the poet into our despair:
“We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.”
– from “A Brave and Startling Truth,” by Maya Angelou
What is the vision for our country
that we will choose?
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