Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The "Good German" Syndrome #thisisnotnormal

I get into a lot of political arguments on-line, particularly with close friends. We can joke around and name call crossing many lines of decor and still be friends at the end of the day. But this has changed a lot since Trump has been elected, because this is not normal. He was not a normal candidate and he will not be a normal president. He got elected by appealing to the basest of emotions and the only impression I can get from his cabinet and White House staff picks is that baseness is the new normal.

I have had people whom I disagree with in my life for decades. Some of them are very smart and some of them, not so. We respectfully disagreed until now, now we simply disagree. I cannot be respectful to anyone who supports Trump. If any other Republican candidate would have won, it would be different. But Trump is a fascist. I have decided to sever ties with those in his camp. This is mostly due to attrition and self preservation. I am tired of arguing and it is obvious that I am not going to change their minds. They have just gone too far this time. The respect I once had for them is gone. They are just not the people that I thought they were. Life goes on.

The problem with this is that when you are in a crowd of friends, you often feel like you have to be friends with everyone else's friends, even those that you think are idiots or reprehensible, to maintain the peace. One of my closest friend (let's call him G.G.), agrees with me about Trump and he is very angry with our mutual friends that voted for him, but his approach is very different than mine. He has them over and calls a "no politics" rule and they enjoy themselves. I cannot do this. I think some one's politics says a lot about them. In our last conversation, my question to him was this: "How far does this go?"  What political belief will drive him away from an old friend? If having friends support a President that has a white supremacist on his staff and a global warming denier in charge of the EPA (among other things) doesn't drive him away from them, then what will?  I guess we'll see.

I called him G.G. for a reason. G.G. stands the Good German.  He's not German. The Good German is a term for those in 1930's Germany who were not Nazis but quietly stood by while the Nazis turned their country into a hell-scape. Most Germans weren't Nazis just like most Americans aren't Trump supporters. Good Germans don't want to rock the boat. They says stuff like "I didn't vote for him" or "I engage in some forms of protest" (a post on Facebook or occasional sarcasm suffices). These things make them feel better. The Good Germans want things to remain like they were, on the surface, even though they aren't under the surface. It is a form of denial. G.G. wants everyone to come over for football, let's remain friendly. Even though, he is friendly with someone who supports taking away the health care of another friend who is also in his living room, along with millions of other Americans. So lets just turn our backs on the fact that some of our friends are quietly killing our other friends. Lets grab a beer with someone who supports the registering and demonizing of people of different religions while another friend, in the same living room, could be of that religion. Just sit back, relax, grab a brew and a slice. The Good German wants to maintain the facade of peace even though we are really at war. The problems with maintaining the peace is that things can change quickly. You can stick your head up your ass for a moment, but this doesn't mean that by the time you pull it out, reality hasn't changed beyond recognition. If you normalize Trump, it may be difficult to go back to the old normal.

If you have been following the US presidential election this year and the fallout afterward, it is difficult not to compare Trump to Hitler in the early days of his political career. No one took Hitler seriously when he first ran for office ... just like Trump. He was a joke. He was an extremist crank that said outrageous things and pulled in big crowds who loved the spectacle. When he did get elected, he acted quickly against his opponents to give himself dictatorial power. It is difficult to see an American President doing this because the office is not very powerful by design. Unless he uses the police to arrest Democrats and burns down their headquarters, the comparison to Hitler can stop there. But the damage that Trump can do, to our environment, justice, civil rights, education, etc. is too great. Should you be speaking up? Think of your Trump friend as an addict, but instead of drugs or gambling, they are addicted to hate. If you turn your back and accept their addiction, you are simply an enabler.

I have one universal truth in my life ... if you surround yourself with jerks, you are going to be miserable. Back in 1990 I made a big change in my life, I moved away from my home. I was miserable and I needed a change. I cut myself off, mostly, from my old life. I barely talked to my family and old friends. I slowly stopped going home for the holidays. A great weight was lifted off of me. I felt like a new person. It was difficult and very lonely, but cathartic and entirely worth it. My life has gotten immeasurably better and I am happier with my life than ever. Just do it.  Purge the Trump supporter from life, don't be a Good German .... you'd be surprised how good it feels.

1 comment:

Olga Hebert said...

I was not taken by surprise the morning after the election. It was about a week before when I heard some off hand remark about "pulling off another Brexit" that my heart sank. Sometimes I have to concentrate on breathing. But I do believe things happen for a reason, there is a lesson we need to learn from all this and if we learn it the universe will correct itself.
I have indeed left or stepped away from 'friendships" of those who rabid in their hatred, though, because I don't need to be around toxic people. Others, I take an attitude of compassion and concern towards.
It's a Buddhist thing: attachment is suffering and attachment to our views is the last and hardest attachment to let go.