There is an alternative to the doom predicted in this headline: become an activist.
There is this naive daydream that somehow the richest and most powerful will not have us all killed (including themselves) just out of greed. That they are intelligent and moral enough to save us. We need to make known to all that this fantasy is a dangerous misconception.
Most people cannot accept — and so deny for themselves — that there are people who promote cigarette smoking because it’s their business. Promote war because they make weapons. Sell “medicine” that they know doesn’t work but does harm or make indispensable medication dozens of times more expensive, just out of ruthless greed. Lie to stay the boss. Lie that AIDS is not caused by a virus to have their name in the papers. Etc.
Yet, it gets worse. There are those who would not only sell their own mother but the whole of human survival for a few lousy bucks. Investing fortunes to hire people to flood the Internet with fake-science reports that climate change is a hoax and not happening.
An old example: Radioactive rain (which was denied to exist ‘not to cause panic’) from Chernobyl had poisoned the grasslands in the Netherlands. Therefore, milk from the cows that grazed it, became unfit for human consumption. It was many times more radioactive than the safety norm. A ‘solution,’ I remember, was found by mixing the radioactive milk with uncontaminated milk so that the mixture could pass the threshold. This made many Dutch people unbeknownst drink in radioactive atoms that nestled into their bones to sit there for decades, making them more likely to die of cancer. Yet, the milk was sold, sales were saved, and that was what counted. The people who did this were never charged with a crime.
The most recent example: A new virus that could kill millions emerges in China. Not only are the Chinese authorities late in taking measures to stop its spread in the Communist utopia. Airline companies continued flying on China for weeks, spreading the virus around the world. Plane (plain) greed.
More absurd is when people claim that morality makes them commit evil. “I will not be known as the one who betrayed Jerusalem” as a pretext to keep 100 years of Arab Palestinian violence against Jews going. Or, that there would be a “moral obligation” to pay every murderer of Jews. (Those who portray such thugs as having moral dilemmas are worse than them.)
We need to fight the overly naive pipedreams. “Certainly, people would not try to make money selling nuclear weapons to terrorists?” You better believe it. And bear in mind that some of the worst crooks wear suits and neckties and speak Oxford English. And don’t assume that you can always detect that they are lying. The most dangerous ones are the perfect liars.
We don’t need to get cynical about human beings. Most people are decent enough never to get on the front page of the papers. But about the rich and famous, we have to be extra skeptical when we ask if they are worthy to follow or not. In Dutch: “Scum rises to the top.” Hebrew: “Poop floats.”
Become an activist. Join the millions who spend their free time working for a better world. Don’t idle away in front of the TV. Yes, you are tired but a bit of fresh air and joint work with true idealists will pick you up.
“A lack of caring enables all evil, including the Holocaust.” (Eli Wiesel)
“The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.” (Albert Einstein)
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: G-d will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer, a rare German church leader who kept speaking out against the Nazi regime.)
“The road to Auschwitz was not built by hate, but paved with indifference.” (Renowned Holocaust Scholar Sir Ian Kershaw)
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transformation was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” (Rev. Martin Luther King Jr)
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.” (Martin Niemöller)
Worse than rulers and shakers who, if not opposed will get us killed many times over, are the common human who doesn’t resist. I count on you.