Pg 338 – They Thought They Were Free
Take the pressure off them, and they might become insufferable. But they became insufferable with the pressure on them. Take the pressure off them, and they might claim that they won the last war. But that would be better than their claiming that they will win the next war. Take the pressure off them, and they might rearm. But they always have anyways. Take the pressure off them, and they might go Communist. But they did go Nazi.
I thought this was an interesting way of stating the relation between consequences, pressure and responsibility. That, and the classic “taking the higher road”.
What’s worse, them claiming they won this war (even if they didn’t) or claiming to win the next one? Obviously it would be best if I swallowed my pride and let them prance and proclaim victory; then to keep the pressure on and ensure that they – and the world – knows that they lost. That is a great way to ensure another war. WWI certainly kept the pressure on Germany, and under that pressure many sacrifices were made and many evil things came of it.
Can this information be used in the personal sense that I have been using it? Does it apply to individual relationships? It certainly seems like it should. I, as an individual, am certainly inclined to make sure that when I’m right in an argument, that the other party knows it. I want to keep the pressure on. That is rarely the wisest thing to do. But then again, I am not the wisest of individuals.
Maybe I can learn from our national mistakes.
Pg 176 – They Thought They Were Free
“I hope … that the Anglo-Saxons” – she obviously meant the Anglos and not the Saxons – “have characteristics that will make them less susceptible to the things we Germans could not resist.”
“What would such characteristics be?” I said.
“Oh, farsightedness, I think, above all. Maybe a shorter history makes it easier for people to look ahead instead of always behind. And you are under less pressure, somehow, than we are. You are freer – I don’t mean legally, of course – to take the long view.” It was the first time, in my conversations in Germany, that the focus had been placed on the word Druck, “pressure.”
Or maybe, I have characteristics that make me less susceptible to the things Germans could not resist as “she” put it above. If I do take the “long view” I do tend to act in a wiser way. Looking ahead instead of behind is not an easy thing. To look beyond the past one must deal with it, and the past is not always a pleasant thing to deal with. Better to ignore it. But to ignore the past is to be ignorant of the future. While I can not convict the Germans of dwelling in the past, even the German above thought that the Germans had too much history, too much past events dragging them down.
Baggage. That’s the relational word used in America to describe past events that are putting pressure on the present and causing ignorance of the future. Let us deal with our baggage. I have dealt with much baggage over the years, but I seem to have an endless supply. Thankfully, by the Grace of God, even dealing with the limited amount I have dealt with the future is brighter and more in focus. Something worth contemplating.
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.