Violence And A Sense of Belonging, from The Third Reich to the Islamic State.


There is a programme sometimes broadcast on the BBC fronted by a man called Michael Palin, which explores the world through his tolerant, engaged and curious eyes. He meets with every kind of man and women regardless of colour, orientation, creed and location and celebrates their unique way of articulating what it is to be human.  It is a beautiful, engaging and involving picture of mankind on the planet and he sees the world as I like to see it. It is not always so.

Adolf Hitler stands in that small group of people most consider without redeeming features. Somehow this wild and evocative orator gave a section of his society  a sense of vision and purpose, at a time when  his country was struggling in horrific social quicksand.  His sickening eloquence  gave enough people a sense of purpose and “Hope,” it seems, was more important than the details of his innate vulgarity and thuggish agenda.  The “civilised” looked on in mild confusion, unsure what polite people did under these circumstances. However diseased his premise, his vision mined a rich seam of alienation among social exiles and the newly minted destitute,   He harnessed their frustrations like no one else.How could that happen ?

As Tennyson wrote so lyrically

“Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:

To a defeated nation, mired in depression and weighed down by the sanctions imposed on it by the victorious allies, his driven, purposeful voice seemed like a beacon of hope and purpose.  Those in power or the “Inner circle” thought they could harness and handle ” this vulgar corporal.” They were wrong.

You and I are far too sensible, individually and collectively, to repeat such mistakes are we not. Sadly that has always been true and always been false. Man repeats mistakes and rises from the ashes to repeat them once again like waves pounding on some indifferent shore we call our future.

In the Middle East, there are waves of violence and terror spreading across the region, the result, in part, of the complacent solutions placed on it by the Western World with that sanctimonious sense of knowing “the greater truth” that so many other regions find insufferable.  Once again, in horrific tones, fanatical zealots are preaching a mixture of hatred and religious and racial cleansing with an energy which is sucking disillusioned youths living marginal or questioned lives in Western cities, to leave their homes and families and join this new crusade to “cleanse the world of the unpurified” whatever that means to succeeding generations.: to harness their previously undiscovered anger and resentment to a “Holy War”

Once more, as “well-bought up people” wring their hands and try to find a “meaningful dialogue” with these uncouth being from another culture, the hatred and sense of vindication and release felt by these young men and women,  again horrifically expressed makes itself felt.

Now some young man from London, possessed by fearsome visions of a different religious and social order slits the throat of that brave and admirable journalist who risked everything to tell the truth and stayed to pay the cost. In Gaza and the Western Bank the rights of one peoples are thought to be secondary to another and where, “Not compromising and giving ground to these inhuman monsters” is the thought on both sides of the negotiating table. We wonder where and how it can all end.

It is only after the volcano has finished its eruption that we can move in and start to repair the damage. It is only after the violence stemming from deep frustrations, hatred and bigotry has exhausted itself, that quieter and more healing souls can move in and  exercise their compassion.

Some politicians have called for “calm with calm” but “Calm” will never be the long-term bedfellow of injustice. How I long for some figure like Ghandi to rise up out of the masses and, refusing to react to constant provocations, make the moral case for change and solution without  violence, but with increasing volume, until even the most inflamed and hate-filled soul is shamed into looking for a better more forgiving way . Without the presence of his kind, and selfless shaming vision he bought to bear on British India, we are in the grip of smaller strategic minds whose “final solutions” allow for nothing but the destruction of those who oppose them.

“All I have is a voice” said W. H, Auden on the eve of the Second World War, before adding sadly, “There is no such thing as the State and no one exists alone; Hunger allows no choice to the citizen or the police; We must love one another or die.”  Millions were to die before mankind remembered the message so many have once more forgotten.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, community, creative writing, Environment, faith, Middle East, Peter Wells, Syria, Ukraine and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Violence And A Sense of Belonging, from The Third Reich to the Islamic State.

  1. If enough clear and articulate voices gather with the same message, perhaps again we will remember to “love one another.”

  2. Caroline says:

    On the day after the death of the man who reminded us of the eloquence of Ghandi, I too was thinking we need another like him to remind the world that the current ‘solution ‘ is not the answer. This man has to come within the ranks of those who are disillusioned. I hope he is there

  3. mikesteeden says:

    Little to say yet felt I wanted to say that this is a notch up from anything else I’ve read on WordPress for a long time.

  4. Sad and poignant message. Thank you for this.

  5. Beautifully expressed, Peter, but I fear, like Tutu’s piece in an Israeli newspaper, it and all others like it will fall on deaf ears. We can only, as Brian Keenan said, hope for everything and expect nothing.

    • I understand what you are saying entirely, and yet, futile as it might be, cannot continue to live my complacent life if I do not remark on a situation which causes so many so much concern. It is a horrific reminder of what man can do to man in the name of “rights” or “national integrity” or even religious beliefs, and it shocks and saddens me.

      • Please don’t misread me – I certainly wasn’t saying it wasn’t worth writing – far from it. The more we shout, the more, I hope, our voices can be heard over the parapet.

  6. eric keys says:

    Well put, Peter. This is good stuff. I do feel a sympathy to the hate-mongers. Not that I want to justify their hate, but I feel like I understand how their hate evolved. I touch upon that little in my recently released eBook which I won’t bother linking to here as it seems inappropriate given the serious nature of the post. But this sort of thing has affected my own writing a lot.

  7. There are some groups that see the concept of ‘talking’, ‘negotiating’, even ‘compromise’ as weakness. It’s not in their strategic toolkit. That is impossible to understand to the Western mind. Sigh.

  8. gotham girl says:

    So well written. Excellent.

  9. Serious words, Peter, eloquently put – I can do no more than echo your thoughts and dreams.

  10. I couldn’t have come close to expressing it so well. It is a frightening rising tide which seems perilously close to sweeping all before it. I fear that many more innocent peace-loving civilians will lose their lives as a small number of powerful, well-funded maniacs push on with their new armies believing that their way is the only way. I also feel incredibly lucky to have had the stroke of fate to be born here, where the only battle is that with the sash window of a morning, and the only real and constant threat is the parking wardens. Boring perhaps, but safe and unpersecuted.

  11. renxkyoko says:

    Excellent piece, Peter Wells. This piece sums up your character. You’re a good man.

  12. catterel says:

    Beautifully expressed, Peter.

  13. Michael Palin is a wonderful example of humankind at its best. Thank you – excellent post. Janet.

  14. I wish very much that all the lovers of peace could be seen as clearly as those who endear themselves to violence.

  15. I am constantly caught off guard by man’s in humanity to man and bleed for those that are so desperately looking for hope that have no choice but to follow and to those who are caught in the crossfire. When will people understand that we all walk along the same road ….

  16. Marcus Case says:

    This post will stay with me for a very long time. Thank you.

  17. restlessjo says:

    We’re waiting for another Messiah, Peter? Is he out there? And will we crucify him or sling him in some bottomless cell? It’s a bleak world view right now, isn’t it? I have to confess to preferring Palin’s gentle world and my own meandering through gardens. But I hear you- loud and clear, and with some distress.

  18. There has been altogether too much following of ‘messiahs’ in world history and too little listening to the voice of humanity, compassion and tollerance. And by tolerance I don’t mean bending over backwards to accomodate the cranky, ugly cultural notions that have no place in civilised society. It’s about time humanity reared its head and made a stand against terrorism and brutality of all kinds. Great piece, Peter.

  19. Thank you for writing this, Peter. It has certainly resonated with me.

  20. Shonnie says:

    I’m trying to get back at my writing and following … Miss you buddy! Love your writing as always!

  21. As long as people focus on how they are different from one another rather than basically the same, we will have hatred and violence. How can you hurt someone who you see as you?

  22. So well expressed Peter and I rather helplessly echo all you have said. I feel horribly saddened as I get on with daily makings of cups of tea, cooking a meal, stroking the cat, reading a light hearted book…

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