When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.
I started collecting stamps somewhere around the age of nine or ten. I belonged to the Scottsdale Boy’s Club and every week I met with like minded kids and adult volunteers to go through boxes of stamps and old letters in search of those that matched the illustrations in my album. Any match was met with joy, but some finds were far more exciting than others. A brightly colored bird from Malaysia. A triangular stamp from Monaco. Anything with a rocket ship or satellite. The ultimate prize, though, was a German stamp with Adolph Hitler.
It’s difficult to put myself back into my ten-year-old brain, but I can say with certainty that I wasn’t excited about those Hitler stamps because I saw myself as a budding Nazi or white supremist. Far from it. My father fought in WWII as did all his buddies, and there was no love for the Third Reich in my family. I heard firsthand the horrors of fascism and what happens when hatred is allowed to rule.
No, it wasn’t misplaced adoration. My exhilaration had more to do with a young mind grappling with the scariness of the world. As a child of the cold war, we were always on the edge of nuclear annihilation. In school, we had weekly air raid and atomic bomb drills. Fallout shelter signs were prevalent around town. I was told that communists were everywhere, and they were coming to get me. Being able to glue Hitler, the evilest man I was aware of, into my stamp album somehow made him less frightening.
A Child No More
Here we are 76 years after the death of Hitler and the fall of Nazi Germany, and the world continues to be a scary place filled with dictators, despots, racists, fascists, and the millions of people who support them. Authoritarianism is on the rise and once again we see war in Europe. The child in me is still trying to understand how such hatred and aggression is allowed to flourish. It’s 2022 for goodness sake. Haven’t we learned better by now?
I’ve never been in Ukraine, nor do I know anyone who lives there, and yet I see Putin’s brutal and unprovoked attack as an attack on everyone everywhere. No matter where the bombs are falling or where the missiles are aimed, we are all under siege. Your family. My family. Many Russians see this, too, and are risking their lives by turning out to protest in the streets. I admire their strength and courage and pray for their safety now and later.
Personally, I am struggling with what I can do to help stop these atrocities. Writing these thoughts has been cathartic, but it won’t bandage the wounded or bury the dead. I am giving money to help those most in harm’s way, but even that isn’t enough. This is a job bigger than any one person can shoulder.
Thank you for reading. I know that I am not the only one struggling with this. Fortunately, I find a little peace knowing that others are doing their parts. I do not want to live in fear, but these are scary times – far away and in my own backyard. There are too many people working hard to destroy democracy and subjugate people.
Stand as you are able. Let your voice be heard. This is not the time to be silent.