Sometimes over a coffee, a comment will emerge from a rather innocuous and merely social conversation that gets at something like an earth-rumble, not a volcano nor an actual quake, but a rolling rumble.
An observation from a retired health care professional, looking back on her decades of service, seemed to come from a deep place. It was an observation that had morphed into a conviction that the people she had worked with were far more likely to cut a co-worker up (put him/her down) than offer encouragement, support and empathy. Why is it that we seem to have a set of relationship “do’s and don’t’s” that pour enthusiastic cheer-leading on young people (except for those parents and teachers who are fixated on ‘not spoiling’ the kid) and then dump on our peers?
There seems to be a kind of either-or imbalance in our many engage in the competitive, cynical, sceptical and even scurrilous kind of “gossip” that may offer instant gratification for the source of the insult, the put-down or the snide remark, immediately covered with a “professional good morning” as if how we really feel about the person can be subsumed in a different mask. It is as if there are different colours, even opposite and necessary colours that describe our complexity and our resistance to tell whatever it is that might be bothering us for fear that we might have to take some responsibility for both how we feel and for a limited or even a deliberately distorted shaping of information to suit our weakest purposes.
What does all of this have to do with anything?
Well, there is a clear and present danger stomping the globe that has echoes of our personal divide. In succession, the former American president, and now the Russian wannabe czar, have adopted a kind of ‘take the gloves off’ from having the facts, the foundational facts and the foundational precepts and even what might be noted as natural human tendency to listen to, to digest, and to participate in some form of dialogue, at the state level, that addresses the whole situation, not merely a small slice of it.
The popular parlance uses the phrase “the big lie” to encapsulate the depth and the range of the self-duplicity, the self-deception, and the seduction of sycophants as acolytes to the gospel of the “big lie” that threatens to break open and inflict itself on the people of the planet. It is not only the question of a non-rigged American election, or a pandemic that will miraculously slide away “come Easter” or a Ukrainian “denazification” program that has already killed thousands and left millions displaced, not altogether dissimilar to the millions who have died from the obvious negligence of the former American president in a deliberately deplorable mis-statement and malpractice of his responsibilities.
We are at risk of falling into the trap that there is no “formal or informal” ‘league’ that connects such a kind of personal need to dominate and to deploy whatever deceptions and propaganda to sustain those deceptions. We read and listen to reports daily of the tragic and heinous steps that are and have been taken by each man, as if they were innate to each separate leader. And we risk failing to take as seriously as the signs would signal, the danger that should trump have pulled out of NATO, and should the January 6th insurrection have succeeded, with the raging pandemic for the last many months, Putin would and could have easily ‘driven himself into Kiev’ in the words of Fiona Hill yesterday on MSNBC.
There were moments in the trump regime when reports focussed on the singular obsession of the then president to build another of his ‘towers’ in Moscow, as if that were his prime purpose in his slippery sidling up to Putin in Helsinki, like the sycophant to the tyrant he was. And, falling into a similar pattern as those health care workers who prefer the ‘put-down’ to the ‘hand-up’ we thought and believed that, by open criticism, even harsh and mean-spirited and focused criticism we were protecting ourselves from what might actually be going on. And yet, was there then, and is there still something else going on besides the public discussion and debate of war intelligence and military materiel in support of Ukraine against a lethal, obsessed and obsessive and compulsive tyrant who is/has adopted the same modus operandi as all dictators have in history? Is there some kind of totalitarian ambition among leaders the ‘west’ considers to be at best ‘rogue’ and at worst “lethal” to the public good, that, whether it is conscious and deliberate or merely accidents of history, or somewhere in between, that poses a significant threat that is not contained in the “defense of democracy and freedom” justification of support for Ukraine?
We like to compartmentalize our thinking, our vision, our
vocabulary, and our protection of our own personal, family and community
security and hope. We like to think that our “world” is not completely vulnerable
to forces that have a need and a determination to destroy for their own insatiable
appetite for power. And we like to think that we have some “order” in a common
agreement and acknowledgement of something like the cliché, “the common good is the public trust we are
all upholding”…And yet…..
Is that a naïve and potentially dangerous way of not seeing the snakes in the grass,
on our shared lawn of the planet?
There are so many different perspectives on political ‘snakes’ in each period of history. And today, we are all reflecting on just whom to trust, on the international stage, including the American political soap-opera/reality television show.
Putin’s denazification of Ukraine, we all know is a blatant defiance of truth and reality. So is trump’s claim that the election was stolen by fraud. And yet, both larynxes have megaphones, and purposefully and willfully manipulate their millions of cult-sycophants, including their ‘bag-men-and-women’. Trouble is, both of these men, through their open defiance of both truth and foundational reality, give both examples and encouragement, support and cover for all other wannabe dictators. Viktor Orban, in Hungary, for example, is resisting joining an embargo or boycott of Russian oil and gas, in the face of intense lobbying by the President of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, who travelling to Budapest yesterday to change his mind. Just today, Emmanuel Macron, recently elected president of France for another five years, has come out swinging in opposition to Ukraine’s proposed and applied for membership in the European Union.
Jennifer Rankin in Brussels, May 9, 2022, reports in The Guardian:
“Emmanuel Macron has called for a new political organization to unite democracies on the European continent, as he warned that Ukraine would probably not join the EU for several decades.”
That utterance, coming as it does in one of the hottest and most violent weeks of this 76-day war in Ukraine, is both untimely and ill-advised. Just because the French president has just been sworn in, following his election is neither the time nor a good opportunity to put such an argument on the international table for consideration. It expresses deep division within the EU, as the President, herself, is working strenuously on behalf of a swift Ukrainian process toward membership.
Herding cats is an image not so far removed from the cracks in the EU, as well as those in NATO, in spite of the forward movement of Sweden and Finland toward NATO membership. And cats, like rebellious men and their millions of followers who not only keep them in power, or on the television and computer screens far past their expiry date, there is reason to entertain the prospect that such independence, undergirded by extreme nationalism, populism and a growing sense that their ‘movement’ is not some accident of history, but rather a fully planned, designed and now being executed shift of geopolitics from the previous post-war arrangements, which everyone knows are and were never perfect, into a much more chaotic almost deconstruction into who knows what.
Brutal stamping out all opposition, control of the media, imprisoning and poisoning opponents with impunity, control of the judicial system, and the addiction to personal acquisition of affluence and long-term office are just some of the personal attributes of those who place their own narcissism ahead of the public interest in their own country and in the world at large.
It is not rocket-science to note that if such tin-pot despots are unable to give even a modicum of care and interest for their own citizens, (think the lock-up of 25 million in Shang Hi, by the Bejing regime, to stem the faux-spread of COVID.), then how can anyone expect them to consider even briefly the broader and deeper interests of the people of the planet, many of whom are starving, and many of whom are experiencing the ravages of global warming including fires and draught as well as crop failures.
It is also not rocket-science to note that everywhere the conversation is sounding the same…we are in a desperate situation, around the world, without any of the requisite institutional and governance systems equipped and ready to address the common shared existential threats. In the provincial election campaign in Ontario, this month, pollsters reports that the dominant issue is “affordability”….the spiking costs of housing, gas, food, and the complexities of the root causes of each of them overwhelming the potential of a concerted, collaborative, and survival-based ethical construct, a global strategic plan, to address their potency.
Bill Gates has publicly argued for a Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization team (GERM), as a possible first approach to dealing with the next, and in his mind, inevitable, pandemic. This would be comprised of people from around the world who have expertise: epidemiology, genetics, data systems, diplomacy, rapid response, logistics computer modeling communications and more….
Such a model, fashioned as a preventive (as opposed to reactive) Marshall Plan for the world’s basic need to address the potential existential crisis of more pandemics.
However, the world cannot rely on the philanthropists of the world to address our shared problems, although their contributions are needed. Governments cannot and must not permit their own irrelevancy by continuing to either do very little or, more importantly, bicker bitterly over the minutiae and fail to see the big picture,
Our job training approaches, it seems, are deeply steeped in the training of skills to confront individual and business problems and symptoms. Where in the world is anyone thinking about the global issues of training generalist experts who can and will bring the disparate experts to the table, with some kind of complex decision-making model to which all participants can subscribe?
The pandemic has not only exposed cracks in our readiness; it has exposed, along with converging threats of a similar magnitude in terms of their impact on human lives, that render the American war against abortion a kind of back-yard bonfire, in light of the global threats to human life. The passion of each side in that debate, while indisputable, also sheds light on the extreme theocratic nature of the fight.
And as American unravels on the abortion front, symbolic of the unravelling that is going on on the governance front, their traditional leadership is going to come into question while the global needs continue to mount.
Who is counting snakes anyway? Do we have an academic department for that?