Want to know an amazing realization? Realizing that some of your actions are a hypocrisy. Realizing that you are guilty of a similar mindset and similar actions of those who you judge harshly. Does this happen often? I don’t know, I can’t recall it happening too often – if at all – to myself. I recall instances of mind changing realizations, but nothing in particular comes to mind where I realized I was a hypocrite. An example of a mind changing realization is when I realized what level of support I had given the US wars over the years, things I had said and thought; particularly with the recent Iraq war as that’s the biggest war of my short, adult life. I wasn’t a big advocate, but you don’t have to be a big advocate to say, or do things that are against proper morals. Over the years I further developed my moral sense based on Christ’s Foundational Principles and came to the realization of my past actions. I spent a bit of time asking for forgiveness after that.
Anyways, that isn’t quite on topic today, but what is on topic is some quotes from Milton Mayer’s time in Germany.
I want to be God, not alone in power but in righteousness and in mercy; and Nazism crushed is my chance.
But I am not God. I myself am a national, myself guilty of many national hypocrisies whose only justification is that the Germans’ were so much worse.
Don’t we all wish that we were perfect in righteousness and mercy so that when we judged other’s we could do it without hypocrisy? These “national hypocrisies” he mentions here he refers to later on the same page:
The trouble is that these national hypocrisies, which I myself am not called upon to practice in person, with my own hands, are all acts of the State or its culture. I feel bad about then, to be sure; very bad. But I do not in the least feel like a bad man, and I do not want to be punished for them. And, if I beat my breast, like my Nazi friend, young Rupprecht, and say, “It is I, I, I, who did it,” I am afraid that I shall sound just as pretentious as he sounded to me. The confession that I want to hear or that I ought to make does not ring real.
Milton Mayer is probably referencing such national hypocrisies as the US Japanese Internment during WW2; or maybe some of the lies the US told it’s citizens so the government could get away with entering the war under false pretenses; or the turning away of Jewish refugees and sending them back to Germany. While those particular hypocrisies don’t apply to me directly, every generation have their own. My generation has against primarily foreigners – the wars against “terrorism”, and against domestic targets – the war against drugs. Previous generations had things like Vietnam, the support of Mao’s China or Soviet Russia. They say hindsight is perfect, but if it was, wouldn’t we learn?
This post is a continuation of a long series of commentary on quotes pulled from They Thought They Were Free, the Germans 1933-45 by Milton Mayer. The book itself is home to a lot of revelations to the nature of people and I do recommend reading it. To see the short review of the book itself please click this link, to see other commentary like this post click this link.