I am still here





One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian born to a Jamaican mother and English father. In an interview, he responded to a question about his ability to look from afar at issues close at hand. He noted his bizarre appearance made him an obvious outsider, so he crafted an outside looking in perspective.

One of his books is called “David and Goliath” about how underdogs sometimes are not whom they first appear to be. In one of his examples, he noted the Nazi’s bombing of London during World War II was actually counterproductive. Why?

People did perish and were injured. And, buildings were destroyed. But, the lion’s share of Londoners were not impacted other than being frightened. They were also galvanized with a defiant “I am still here.”

We should not set aside that galvanizing affect as it is crucial to the British resolve. Outside of tacit support from America before December 7, 1941, the British bore the heavy load to fight the Nazis and Italians in the Europe/ Africa campaign. I am still here was a big part of their perseverance, especially after near catastrophe at Dunkirk which may have cost them severe loss of soldiers had it not been for a make-shift volunteer navy.

Standing up against tyrants and bullies requires that kind of perseverance. It is said the tenacious Winston Churchill was the ideal man to lead Great Britain during these times. He saw Adolph Hitler for exactly who he was – a psychopathic tyrant. Churchill’s predecessor tried to appease Hitler, which seems ludicrous in hindsight. You don’t stroke a bully.

The only way to stand up to a bully is with resolve. Please remember that when bullies and liars try to denigrate and gaslight you. The truth is your ally. So, is your conviction. I am still here. And, I know who and what you are.

If we don’t know our history, we are destined to repeat it

I read this week from an UPI article that 60% of millennials and Gen-Zers are unaware that 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust by the Nazis in World War II. I use the word “exterminated” as that is what the Nazis did by gassing Jews after they rounded them up. If the brashness of this statement offends – I apologize for the needed candor. It is meant to wake people up.

But, the Nazi genocide of Jews is among too many persecutions around the world and over time. The United States has had three persecutions of groups of people, two of which leading to many deaths. We should never forget these sad parts of our history or white-wash (word intentionally chosen) them away.

– European settlers of the US over time seized land from, killed many and moved Native Americans over the course of three centuries. Even today, Native Americans have to go out of their way to protect the rights granted when they were forced to move or areas dear to them were protected by law. It seems the pursuit of fossil fuel acquisition and transport usurps rights.

– Slavery of blacks in the US is well known and was the principal reason the Civil War was fought. Even the reason for the war was white-washed and taught as a battle for states’ rights in too many class rooms. This propaganda was to get poor whites to fight the battles of landowners to allow their richer neighbors to keep slaves. Slaves were treated and abused as property. Yet, after the reconstruction period was legislated away years later, an ugly era of Jim Crow laws began to suppress blacks and make/ keep them as second class citizens. I encourage you to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or listen to Billie Holiday sing “Strange Fruit” about black bodies swinging in the trees regarding this hateful period.

– To protect them (and other Americans, as a stated reason), FDR ordered the encampment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. These folks and their families were taken from their jobs and homes and imprisoned in camps during the war. They were not killed, although maybe some were while trying to escape, yet their rights were taken away.

Outside of North America, USSR premier Josef Stalin rounded up and killed far more people as enemies of the state than Adolph Hitler ever did. Yet, it did not get the notoriety of Hitler’s heinous crimes of the holocaust. In the 1990s, Radovan Karadzic and the Bosnian Serb military commander, General Ratko Mladic, were among those indicted for genocide and other crimes against humanity as they captured and killed about 8,000 Bosniaks.

In 1994, a planned campaign of mass murder in Rwanda occurred over the course of some 100 days. The genocide was conceived by extremist elements of Rwanda’s majority Hutu population who planned to kill the minority Tutsi population and anyone who opposed those genocidal intentions.

More recently, in Iran the Sunnis felt left out of the largely Shia governing body in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled. They made the mistake of inviting in Daesh to help them. Daesh conducted genocide against all who stood against them, with beheadings and terror, until they were contained.

Sadly, there is so much more. Often the conquering power or the group in power will suppress people in their own lands. The leaders of the Mongols, Romans, Spaniards, Greeks, Brits, Syrians, North Koreans, Russians, Chinese, etc. have put down dissidents or dissident groups or made them disappear. There is an old saying – winners write the history – so, written history may be kinder than oral history to the strong-arming

These sad events involve two themes – power and fear. The first theme is obvious. The second is an age old practice. Tell people to fear another group, tell them these groups are the reason for your disenfranchisement and the people will do what you tell them.

How do we avoid this? So-called leaders who tell us whom to fear, should be questioned. This is especially true if the voice is not one of reason or veracity. Fear is a lever to divide and conquer – we must guard against its wielders.