What Are We

I am currently reading Boomerang by Michael Lewis.  This volume is about each of the countries that have contributed to/experienced a hurtful portion of the  Europe/USA financial crisis.

On page 148 of the hardcover version the author says:

The twenty minute walk from the German Finance Ministry to the office of the chairman of Commerzbank, one of Germany’s two giant private banks, is punctuated by officially sanctioned memories: the new Holocaust Memorial, two and a half times the acreage occupied by the U.S. Embassy;  the new street beside it called Hannah Arendt Street;  The signs pointing to Berlin’s new Jewish Museum;  the park that contains the Berlin Zoo, where after spending decades denying they had ever mistreated Jews, the authorities have newly installed , on the Antelope House, a plaque commemorating their Nazi-era expropriation of shares in the zoo owned by the Jews.  Along the way you also pass Hitler’s bunker, but you’d never know it was there, as it has been paved over by a parking lot, and the small plaque that commemorates it is well hidden.  The streets of Berlin can feel like an elaborate shrine.  It’s as if history stopped and assigned roles to people, and the Germans have been required to accept that they will always play the villain. On the other hand, it’s easier to express contrition about just about everything the less personally responsible one feels.  The guilt is being so loudly expressed precisely because it is no longer personal and searing.  Hardly anyone still alive is responsible for what happened here: everyone is.  But when everyone is guilty, no one is.

Based on the last few sentences of the above,  what about our individual and collective culpability as citizens whan we invade sovereign counties?  Are we, individually, any different from the German citizen who knew what atrocities the Nazi were perpetrating and said nothing, did nothing?

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3 Comments on “What Are We”

  1. “Are we, individually, any different from the German citizen who knew what atrocities the Nazi were perpetrating and said nothing, did nothing?” —

    A damning equation. No; in fact, we are complicit.


    • Kathy Says:

      One could argue that we are more complicit, because we do not face the unimaginably horrific consequences for speaking up that German citizens would have during WWII.

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