Hitler really really cared about a lot of things. He was passionate. He was dedicated. And he was effective.
Hitler was also a horrible human being. No one to be glorified or emulated.
But you can’t deny he cared about Germany. His passion for righting the wrongs done to Germany led him down a path which caused millions of deaths. Hitler was dedicated to making Germany the ruling power of the earth because he was so god-damn sure in himself, the Aryan people, and their divine destiny.
I apologize for the cliche. They say, whenever someone brings up Hitler, you should leave the conversation. And in general, that’s a good rule of thumb. Usually, at that point, the conversation has devolved into one “side” accusing another of being the most Hitler-like.
Hitler is an easy comparison, the embodiment of evil. I could have said Stalin, or Mao–they did just as much damage if not much more– but then I’d have to explain myself. Hitler gives a nice emotional shot to the brain.
And that’s why Hitler comes out when people get emotional. They accuse someone–or a political party, or a movement–of being like Hitler because they care. They really freakin’ care about the point they are trying to get across. They are passionate about their beliefs and dedicated to their cause.
Which is why “Hitler” is a great signal to stop caring about what they say. Time to walk away and say, you know what, I just don’t care.
And I’m not saying they are necessarily wrong. Maybe they are right to be so passionate. Maybe they see the truth and are just so frustrated and bitter that they can’t help but lash out.
But for every one of those, I guarantee there are a hundred little Hitlers. They’ll never have the opportunity to be as effective as Hitler, thank god, but they would reach such evil heights if they could. And they would do it in the name of their righteous cause that they care so deeply about.
But you can’t tell the difference. So the solution is simple, don’t join a side, don’t evangelize a cause, just stop caring.
Let me pause here before you think I am getting cynical and nihilistic.
Things matter. I’m not saying it doesn’t all make a difference.
Hitler was elected, after all. So it makes sense to have passionate, dedicated people who really care about making sure another Hitler isn’t elected to cause the same destruction.
There were people in Germany who surely saw Hitler for what he was.
Many passionately dedicated themselves to spreading the truth about the evils of Naziism.
Some of these were communists– the same type that got their guy to power in Soviet Russia. Great job guys…
Some were patriots. They just wanted to live a happy life and leave something for their children in the motherland. They probably died, likely turned in to the Gestapo by their own children for grumblings against the Nazis.
And some left. They didn’t care enough to defend the homeland, or elect a communist, or join the Nazis. They lived and thrived. They had children who had children. They passed ideas along, they built things.
So who is the next Hitler? Oh just ask around, you’ll get plenty of answers, usually divided along (pretty convenient and suspect) political fault lines.
But the truth is, everyone has their counterpart on the other side, all passionately screaming to wake up the sheep because– you guessed it– they care.
Look, there is a lot that I care about. I’m not faulting anyone for caring. But in the past, I cared Hitler-style. I was so passionately caught up in what I knew to be right, that I just ended up contributing to the screaming match.
It’s the same screaming match I’m sure you’ve noticed, in which our society is currently engaged. It makes passions flare, it makes people angry, it creates zealots dedicated to their righteous cause.
The problems in society right now are not due to a lack of caring. Apathy is not causing the problems. People care. They just care about different things and haven’t figured out that the best way to solve them doesn’t involve forcing everyone else to bend to your demands.
Instead of caring about this fight, lead by example, make the changes in your own life you want to see in the world. That is the most effective way to manifest your vision of how the world should be.
But if your first inclination is to force everyone else to care about what you care about, try having a little empathy. Maybe that’s not the issue for them. And maybe that doesn’t make them a piece-of-shit Nazi or Commie-scum or whatever.
Maybe it makes them just another human with unique wants and needs, who has had different experiences that put emphasis on different values.
If you don’t care, stay strong, I commend you. Because at least you know you’re not supporting the next Hitler.