As I read Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, I am reminded of our current political climate.
In the book, Johnny Smith has the supernatural ability to see “into people,” witnessing their thoughts as well as their past and future actions by touching them.
He gets curious about up-and-coming politicians and attends several rallies until he stumbles onto a really bad seed, and he sees all the evil of which this man is capable along with the fact that he will become president years in the future.
The politician he fears, Greg Stillson, is unqualified with no real platform and behaves like a clown. His political rallies are like rock concerts, and he has no concern for the wellbeing of those that he governs but for his own interests.
Now, they may not be twins, but this loose cannon reminds me a good deal of Donald Trump.
Johnny begins to ask himself and many people he encounters, ‘If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you do it?’
I asked myself the same question when I was about nine years old, and at the time, I thought it was the right thing to do. After all, wasn’t Hitler the one who orchestrated the Holocaust and World War II?
However, the reality is that people like Hitler, Stillson, and Trump do not exist in a vacuum. Hitler understood this: “A new state cannot simply fall down from the sky, instead it has to grow from within the people.”
Someone like Hitler could never have become so powerful without the wounds from the Treaty of Versailles, which assigned almost exclusive blame for World War I to Germany.
The Germans believed that others had caused their misfortune, and that they must unite and protect their people and eradicate these threats. In other words, they wanted to ‘Make Germany Great Again.’ Sound familiar?
The Germans saw others succeeding while they struggled, a group of people who had entered the country uninvited. The Jewish people became the poster child for all that had been done against the German nation.
This reminds me a lot of the desire to build a wall to keep out Mexicans and other immigrants south of the border and Trump’s call to ban all Muslim travel to the U.S.
Will we let this happen again? Can we blame a man like Trump, someone who until recently we had seen as a clown? Can we really paint him as the threat? He is a symptom but not the problem.
The more serious question is this: Why are Trump and people like him being taken seriously now? Why are his ideas and the way he expresses them suddenly so appealing?
The truth is this: If things are so bad that Hitler can rise to power, killing him may do nothing. The fear of others is the real problem, and love, openness, and trust are the solution.
People do things that we don’t like or that are evil for many reasons. But we cannot change what others do.
So ask yourself: What can I do? How can I be part of the solution? Am I treating others in a way that I don’t want them to treat me?
If we are truly awake, then no one can lead us astray. Let’s choose to build our lives and our nations based on love and not on fear. The power of choice and of love is in you just as it is in me.
So how will you choose to act today?