The Way We Are

Helen Noakes

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“A salient fact about dictators or aspiring despots is that they consistently place the blame for all the ills of the world on “the other.” They seduce followers by affirming that any tribulations in their world are caused by people who differ from themselves, thus fomenting hatred, which is grotesquely and momentarily cathartic.”—Helen Noakes

Waking Point

By Helen Noakes

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” (From “Pogo,” by Walt Kelly.)

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” (From “Pogo,” by Walt Kelly.)

Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—July 2018—A salient fact about dictators or aspiring despots is that they consistently place the blame for all the ills of the world on “the other.” They seduce followers by affirming that any tribulations in their world are caused by people who differ from themselves, thus fomenting hatred, which is grotesquely and momentarily cathartic.

No longer need a “true believer” confess that “The devil made me do it”; he or she can point at “the other” and claim,“The devil did it.”

Oppressive regimes are built on hate, and that hate is effectively maintained by a manipulative leader who is filled with it, a leader who is unwilling to examine his own immense deficiencies and self-hatred.

The need to blame others for our failures is an all too human trait. We see it on display in children’s behavior. Unless the parent or responsible adult teaches, not through punishment but careful explanation, that this is not effective behavior, not the way to be in the world or with others, society is doomed to repeat a pernicious and violent history. And that history has sadly repeated itself, is repeating itself, throughout the world.

It is, tragically, on prominent display in our country at the moment.

Those who refuse to admit it are dooming all of us to deadly failure. Those who won’t act to remove dangerous, ignorant megalomaniacs from positions of power are not only complicit but fated to fall into the abyss with the rest of us. No one ever wins in this situation.

To quote one of my favorite cartoon characters, Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The inimitable Walt Kelly, who created this little character, wrote those words during the Cold War. It is a sad reflection on us as a nation that the quote is often repeated throughout American history, that it was applicable then, and that it is still as relevant as it has ever been.

What we, as a people, need is an attitude adjustment, a setting aside of offensive behavior to make an effort at civil discourse. Listen to one another! We have more in common than we think. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll all see that our current leadership is not interested in the health of our country, but in using this country and its people for personal gain.

Time to wake up. Time to strive for a better America for us and for our future generations, which we can all agree does not include tearing at each other.

Helen Noakes

About Helen Noakes

Helen Noakes is a playwright, novelist, writer, art historian, linguist, and Traditional Reiki Master, who was brought up in and derives richness from several of the world's great traditions and philosophies. She believes that writing should engage and entertain, but also inform and inspire. She also believes that because the human race expresses itself in words, it is words, in the end, that will show us how very similar we are and how foolish it is to think otherwise.
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