Hindsight, the cliché goes, is 20/20. In truth, hindsight is only as clear as one's perception of the present.
For example, there is the conventional notion that the Holocaust was preventable until the "evacuation" of European Jewry to a "final solution" was decided in early 1942.
This stems from the illusion, if not delusion, that prior to 1942, even with Hitler in power for eight years and the war raging for nearly three, the "final solution" was still "on the cusp of avoidable disaster."
In truth, the Holocaust was inevitable from the moment the appeaser Chamberlain waved his scrap of paper after meeting with Hitler while ludicrously exclaiming "peace in our times."
The parallel is painful. The world is now attempting to appease Trump's America.
The notion that nothing is inevitable until it happens is comforting, but it guarantees blindness and blindsiding. Willful blindness is complicity with evil.
The morning after his illusions (or his con) with respect to the American people were shattered by the election of the demagogue Donald Trump, President Obama said, "This is not the apocalypse. I don't believe in apocalyptic-until the apocalypse comes. I think nothing is the end of the world until the end of the world."
What kind of shortsighted, circular thinking was that by this most logical of presidents? Caught in it, unable or unwilling to see and address the truth of a people riven by division, darkness and deadness, Obama helped pave the way for the demagoguery of Donald Trump.
Besides, the meaning of apocalypse is not the end of humanity, but the violent end of a given world. Though the two are conflated, the end of a given world or age is not the end of humanity.
Indeed, there have been many worlds in human history. The ending of one world can be and often has been the beginning of another.
A continuity has been broken. The end, apocalyptic or not, of this so-called order and age is a fait accompli.
The Obama years were an interregnum between Bush-Cheney and Trump-Pence, and a negligent slide into the tar pit America now finds itself. What will replace American leadership, such as it was?
It's hard to believe Barack failed to perceive what had happened to the American people, since he ran and won in 2004 on slogans of hope and change. On the other hand, it's also hard to believe that he was so cynical as to do so with full awareness that the American people had lost their core intactness as a people.
How the Obama years contributed to the irrefutable and irrevocable decline of America must be left to the historians. The only sure thing is that the prevailing, consoling narrative that the election of Donald Trump was a white nationalist reaction to the election of a biracial president is a dangerous half-truth.
The real and present danger that America now poses to the human prospect does not solely stem from the fact or fluke that an illogical, narcissistic president is channeling immense darkness. It stems from the conditions in the American people and culture that gave rise to Trump.
I hope I'm wrong, but the same underlying factors that allowed such a man to assume the most powerful office in the world will prevent Trump being stopped within America.
The American media was consumed last week with the "fallen heroes" trope after four US soldiers were killed on some mysterious mission in Niger.
Looked at from the perception of a human being rather than the perspective as an American or any other thing, what did they die for? How many Americans even knew we had hundreds of troops in Niger? How many Americans even know where Niger is?
In fact, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer were unaware of the large US presence in the country. "I didn't know there was 1,000 troops in Niger," Graham said on NBC's Meet the Press today, adding, "this is an endless war without boundaries and no limitation on time and geography."
Vietnam veterans, the vast majority of whom were drafted, were often blamed by the anti-war movement when they returned.
Now however, the mythology of the Vietnam vet being spat on has morphed into a slobbering, "fallen heroes" idiocy, effectively squelching any questioning and dissent regarding the disastrous policies emanating from Washington.
"Hard-nosed realists" on the right and the left say (and there's no difference between them in the end) define truth is either "a statement is one that conforms to facts or reality," or "speaking in a direct, unvarnished way without regard to political correctness."
The truth is neither. Look behind the "autocratic, nativist, xenophobic, nationalist reaction that is now in full swing on both sides of the Atlantic." The truth can only be uncovered through questioning and insight.
America and the West are cannibalizing itself. Russia and China, don't be happy about that, since if we cannot find bottom, there won't be bottom for humanity in this age.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.
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