Monday, April 13, 2015

"The Banality of Indifference" in WWII

Worldwide, for every individual WWII mass-murderer, 99 people were willing to fight to oppose to their behavior while 900 people were simply regretfully indifferent to the suffering they were causing others.

The article is about that vast majority - the nine hundred out of a thousand who all sighed for a moment on first hearing news of yet more brutalities but then did precisely nothing when it came to converting sighs into actions.

Pace Hannah Arendt, this is all about 'the banality of indifference'.

Almost 2.5 billion people lived or were conceived throughout the six years of WWII, of whom 75 million died as the direct or indirect result of the war :  .3% of the world population.

But 750 million suffered terrible privations in occupied or invaded/bombed territories -- many led shorter postwar lives as a result.

Beyond rationing and regulations, most of those in the better off countries also suffered --- particularly from worrying about relatives and friends in combat zones or upon learning of their deaths.

Of those 2.5 billion people, relatively few wanted to mass-murder people in the name of war and enjoyed it and fearlessly publicly justified it.

Let us suggest they might be as few as one person in a thousand - 2.5 million proud wartime mass-murderers world wide.

Most of the millions of others who mass-murdered in the name of war simply followed orders to shot hostages, fire up barns filled with children or bomb residential areas from the air because they feared harsh official punishment or social abuse from their male comrades if they failed to 'act tough' and be 'patriotic'.

To be specific - a mere handful actually and actively gassed or shot 6 million Jews but most of the educated world - in Germany and in the Allied and neutral worlds knew it was happening at the time and still did nothing, as once again the big brutalized the weak and the small.

Which is also what they had done as Manchuria, Ethiopia,Austria, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Poland, Finland,Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania , Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Greece, Yugoslavia all fell one after another, before their bigger neighbours.

A few individuals can hold their heads up for consistently urging military action to stop this onslaught of the big upon the small as early as the beginning of the1930s, but no single nation can do so.

Even the governments of France and Britain in September 1939 first sought a negotiated way out of actually having to go to war upon the invasion of Poland as they had earlier publicly promised.

The facts are harsh : almost no nation ever went into armed combat against the evil Hitler unless and until their landmass or sea vessels were directly attacked by the Nazis.

Until then, most remained agnostic as to the evils of Hitler.

In 1940, most of the world's population thought, in the abstract, that the invasion of the small by the big was morally very wrong ---- but that sadly it was also evolutionarily inevitable.

The inevitable 'wave of the future', in the words of that year's bestselling author, Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

The most successful evolutionary response, she and most of the educated people in the world believed, was to work to protect their 'own kind' and to reduce their morality urges to sending a few food bundles to the afflicted.

They failed to see that all of humanity was their 'own kind' and were light years away from present day thinking that all life on earth is also our 'own kind' and that we are all essential to each other's long term survival on lifeboat earth.

Using Anne's husband's Charles Lindbergh's diaries and verbal utterances in 1939-1941 as an example, protecting all life or protecting all humanity had literally narrowed down to protecting once's fellow white middle class protestant native born Republican Americans from the Mid West.

For Lindbergh's internal enemies list was even longer than that of Richard Nixon, but nowhere as as long as Lindbergh's 'mere indifference to their fate list' : for that spanned the world...

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