(a correction to): We, As A People

John - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Entered on October 2, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: question, war

I believe that truth will some day prevail over the power of positive persuasion. I heard a story once that I believed at the time and have no reason to doubt now, although I don’t recall enough about the source to corroborate all the details. Many of them are a matter of historical record.

The story begins at the outset of World War I, the war to end all wars. At that time, there were many Americans, with many patriots among them, who believed that America should not become invested in the interests of any one side of a European war. In the end, allegiance to the strongest diplomatic alliances, or perhaps the nobler cause, won out. But to the hearts and minds of the American people, whose support would be essential for the war effort to succeed, this was not yet considered to be a done deal.

So a young man who had proved himself to be an up and coming force in the world of advertising was commissioned to sell the war. And we bought it, with heads held high. Years later, after the war was over, and the war after that as well, this much older man happened himself into a chance meeting with the architect of the Nazi propaganda machine who told him: “You know, I read all your books.”

The point of this story is not to compare our system of government to a fascist dictatorship in a time of war. Nor is it to compare the American people to anyone who believed the Nazis were fighting for a noble cause. The point is to present a parable, a story with a moral which in this case is that sometimes the greatest strength of evil lies in the ignorance of those who act upon their beliefs with the moral authority of the greater good in mind.

I believe that someday we, as a people, will see the truth inherent to this story and set ourselves straight on that account. I can only pray that I will live to see what happens after that.