Rumi, Dalai Lama, and Autocratic Fascists: What History Tells Us About The Role of Love in Existential Crisis
As I look west right now, I see the white and yellow and orange glow of the fallen sun bleeding into the indigo early night sky. The glow accentuates and sharply outlines the tips of the purple mountains majesty, with bright stars and planets swiftly taking their place in alignment over the magic glow. I stood a long time, memorizing what this looks like because it is possible my time of viewing this is coming to a close.
I have a lot of moments like that now.
I hear people say: “Our beautiful nation could not fall, for the vast majority of people are not ‘with’ the fascists.”
We have the same percentage of ‘normal people’ that Germany did before and during WWII. Or North Korea. Or East Germany. That belief of imperviousness shows a lack of understanding of how authoritarians grab/hold power and what their goals are.
I see people admiring the Dalai Lama and his words, as I do. I have always loved his words and his guidance. One can not gaze at him without feeling warmth and love. The twinkle of his eye lasts in your heart for months.
However, this Dalai Lama fled China in 1959/60 when the Chinese government was suppressing the people there. This was during the time of the largest genocide in the history of earth, unfolding in China under Mao. Even with a much smaller population, more than 45,000,000 people were killed. To compare to the current U.S. population, that would be around 25,000,000 Americans dead. Killed on a silly whim by their trump-like leader.
Other whims of Mao’s, like deciding that green was not a good color (meaning all the people had to spend their days pulling out the grass everywhere they could) or that old things were bad (resulting in the destruction of thousands of years of Chinese artifacts, rendering much of ancient Chinese history gone) were ruthlessly and repetitively destructive. Before the population could recover from his last insane whim, the next would be coming at them. The vast majority of modern Chinese people don’t know anything about what Mao did, as the teaching of that history, or even the speaking of it, is forbidden.
This Dalai Lama has said he thinks he may be the last Dalai Lama. He says he does not want to return to China and fight the atrocities with his people. Of course he does not, he would be killed.
That doesn’t make his words or their meaning less. But let’s be realistic about what those words are. They are a hope. A prayer for what could be. A thing that we should work towards. A beacon. A guide for our hearts to remember.
He escaped. His people did not. The atrocities continue.
There is love, there is kindness, there is goodness and there are the words (via all of us, via Rumi, via Dalai Lama and more) that those things represent.
There is also a small, but persistent and rapidly growing force of evil.
Many historians say WWII could have been totally avoided if Great Britain had not tried so hard, under Neville Chamberlain, to see and seek the better angels in Hitler and his people. They say if they had honestly recognized what was clearly apparent then and acted, war could or might have been prevented. Neville Chamberlain insisted that England could use diplomacy and tact, showing respect and kindness to the Germans and it would save England and the world from war. Neville Chamberlain believed in the words of love. He and his people did not want war, they did not seek it. But he did not recognize that it was at their doorsteps, whether they wanted or liked it, or not.
He developed a policy of appeasement. Of kindness. Of reasonableness. Of respect. Of contracts and agreements. That failed, catastrophically.
“In Britain, the Munich Agreement was greeted with jubilation. However, Winston Churchill, then estranged from government and one of the few to oppose appeasement of Hitler, described it as ‘an unmitigated disaster’.
Appeasement was popular for several reasons. Chamberlain — and the British people — were desperate to avoid the slaughter of another world war. Britain was overstretched policing its empire and could not afford major rearmament. Its main ally, France, was seriously weakened and, unlike in the First World War, Commonwealth support was not a certainty. Many Britons also sympathised with Germany, which they felt had been treated unfairly following its defeat in 1918.
But, despite his promise of ‘no more territorial demands in Europe’, Hitler was undeterred by appeasement. In March 1939, he violated the Munich Agreement by occupying the rest of Czechoslovakia. Six months later, in September 1939, Germany invaded Poland and Britain was at war.” ~. https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-britain-hoped-to-avoid-war-with-germany-in-the-1930s
85,000,000 died, approximately 3% of the world population at that time.
The time to prevent such tragedies is BEFORE the war, the fighting, begins. The time to use one’s voice to stop it is now. Or rather, last year and the year before, but now is the next best time.
We must immediately put a stop to the fascist propaganda. We must immediately speak sanity to every single person we know who are enthralled with the evil. NOT be nice to them in the hopes they will ‘see the light’ for we know without one single doubt, that is not the path. That is appeasement. We must not do appeasement.
There is NO DOUBT what will happen if we lose our democracy. It is not just a matter of the people here losing freedoms or being subjected to jailing, torture, and unfathomable daily crisis. Hunger, loss of everything including belongings and family, physical freedom and the ability to speak (if you do not understand what this all looks like, there are thousands of novels and history books that will help you clearly see what is imminent in our nation). No, it is not just that.
If the U.S. democracy fails, the world will sink into a war of such immeasurable size and depth one can scarcely imagine. If we suffered the same percentage of loss that we had in WWII, that would mean the often violent deaths of a quarter of a billion people. And that limit is not guaranteed.
But that is not the worst of it. Simultaneous with this desire of a handful of ultra wealthy autocrats to seize power of earth, is the onslaught of global warming, in earnest.
The tornadoes that happened this last week are just a beginning and it will rapidly happen faster and faster until all systems to respond, fail. Meaning when these calamities hit, the communities will have to simply abandon their homes and seek new shelter. We, in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and other developed nations, are not far from that point. I refer you to McKinsey’s report on insurance solvency in respect to global warming.
Now, imagine a world of chaos, of war, with simultaneous millions and millions of people wandering, trying to find shelter. Trying to escape conflict. Trying to seek water.
The size of refugee camps is already ballooning out of control. Many times, these refugees end up spending a decade or more in the camps. AMERICANS will find themselves in camps like this.
This is already happening around the world. Surrounding the Sahara, in many areas, this is already happening. Climate change refugees are already on the march. One of the destabilizing factors in Europe right now is the massive number of refugees overwhelming their ability to care for them. We will have that, too. It will rapidly get worse.
Right now, nearly 1 in 100 people on earth are displaced from their homes and it is growing rapidly (actually those stats are 2015 and it is rising rapidly). Our military has stated that the climate change challenges are the number one concern of our military and earth, happening NOW. See graph.
So you see, the challenges we face right now will require us to have maximal effectiveness right now (RIGHT NOW) if we are to survive this as a species and to build a better tomorrow.
The Dalai Lama’s role now is to say words of love so we can deeply remember what that is. It’s his role. An important role. Most of us have other roles.
We will NOT, as the Dalai Lama did, be able to “exile” — — although we will try.
That is why the Dalai Lama is so sure he will be the last one. He knows.
If Rumi was alive, he would likewise, know.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”