Rationalbrain is currently on holiday in Europe for a while, and for this week it’s Amsterdam. While initially I thought I might dig up some euro-pseudo-science about which to rant, I’ve been struck quite unexpectedly by something a little more serious.
No, I don’t mean how s**t the wireless broadband is in this otherwise excellent hotel.
I’m referring to the whole Anne Frank thing.
I have to confess that I’ve never read her diaries, although I’ve been exposed to the story via the zeitgeist over many years. However, seeing the house, the photos and the diary pages themselves is a different matter.
The presentation in the museum & house is quite excellent – not overly sentimental, but nonetheless powerful. It left me angry actually.
The swift and brutal way in which this little girl’s life changed in the space of a couple of years is sobering, and pictures of her father and others in the group being led away and onto trains are chilling.
In case you were wondering, no, this blog hasn’t turned into the History Channel. I simply feel it’s another chance to remind readers of the potentially powerful, and often unexpected, influence which charismatic individuals and groups can have on others. In this case, it’s Hitler. Since November 2010 when I started blogging, I’ve referred to a number of such individuals – including Oprah, and closer to home, Francine Scrayen. And while invoking Hitler to disparage someone is the lowest form of argument, in this case I believe the comparison to be valid qualitatively, if not quantitatively. In each case, the inidividual in question is able, by virtue of their acquired influence, to lead large numbers of people to do wholly irrational things which end up in some form of harm to themselves or others.
We can all guess that the man himself was somewhat twisted to believe that someone’s religion (which is, after all, an imaginary distinction between people) somehow meant that they deserved to die. But looking at all those drones doing his bidding makes one despair about the human race. Did none of those thousands of people ever question what they were doing? Or was it simply the need for self-preservation? One thng is for certain, whatever the influence of Hitler, it had massive reach, and had to be supported by many like-minded individuals who shared the same delusion.
I am angry. Angry in particular at those morons who forced Anne and her family to cower like caged animals for so long, and then terminate them; angry in general at those who mis-use their influence to do harm whatever the extent; and, angry at those who allow themselves to be taken in.
This experience only makes me more determined to keep reminding whomever will listen that there is a vaccine against such atrocities – it’s called clear thinking. And in a natural link to another topic I’ve been pursuing, the teaching of religion to children, innoculation should begin in primary school by ensuring that they are taught how to think for themselves, and not to parrot what someone else thinks; taught about the real world, and not fantasy-as-fact; and taught how to explore and question, and not submit to false authority.
Tomorrow’s another day, and a chance to chill out with another coffee by another canal.
Over and out.