I am just crushed.

I went to bed just as the news of the Las Vegas shootings was breaking. I woke up this morning to more than 50 dead and hundreds injured. I’m numb to some degree because it’s just the latest of these attacks, I know it’ll happen again and I know that our society and its leaders are simply unwilling to show the courage to try to grapple with the problem. Instead they’ll offer thoughts and prayers and move on.

And there’s little to nothing we as individuals can do other than try to push the dialog forward and work to get those idiots out of positions of power.

This one strikes closer to home for me, too. Not only do I have friends living in Vegas (they’re all safe), but I had an offer of tickets to the Sharks game and was considering Mandalay Bay as one of the places to stay. It was basically a coin flip that kept me from being there when it happened.

That kind of strikes home just how your being impacted by this or not comes down to a roll of some cosmic set of dice.

I’m safe because I decided not to go take in the game and the new arena until later. But I realize in my gut that I’ll never know that the dice have rolled craps on my until it’s too late. These situations are completely out of my control.

And yours.

Unless, of course, we choose to get serious about reducing peoples ability to cause this mass mayhem, but we already know our existing leadership has no willingness or courage to take that on. Just empty platitudes for us.

Historical homework

As someone who reads a lot of history, I find there are events in the past that can help us better understand the present. We tend to operate in cycles, and while as a culture we never repeat a cycle exactly, we can look at times in the past to get some understanding of what’s happening now and what is possible or likely in the near future.

There are two times in the past that I think about when looking at what’s happening around the globe today. One is the decent into the Dark Ages in the late 400s AD; The Roman Empire collapses, Europe is hit by the little ice age, and then the emergence of the Black Plague caused a major upheaval in European society and a major regression in culture or scientific progress.

But the era I keep reflecting on is the 1920’s and 1930’s as we see the progressivism and progress in the post WW I times get overtaken by the rise of fascism. This led to Mussolini in Italy and the National Socialists in Germany that led to the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, and ultimately to World War II.

Consider that in context of today: Trump and the tea party (science denialisms and white supremacy re-emerging), Brexit, the growth of the Alternatives for Germany party (anti-immigrant with fascist leanings) and now the repression of the independence vote in Catalan by the Spanish Government in what can only be views as a full re-emergency of Franco fascism.

The parallels fascinate me and scare me at the same time. We’ve seen this script before, and it’s not pretty.

If you want to learn more about this time and perhaps glean some insights into what we’re seeing today, here are a few things to check out.

  • First, go watch the movie Cabaret. It is set in that time and paints a picture of the attitudes and behaviors as the fascists took over.
  • To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 takes a look at the history of Europe from the end of WW I into World War II from a cultural and political (as opposed to military) view. This digs into the reasons WHY Europe turned to fascism and ultimately into the second war as opposed to the hows of a military history.
  • Finally, a novel set in this time: Tempting Fate by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Set in 1920s Austria, this is one of her St. Germain historical fiction books, which are carefully researched and details looks at points in time featuring a lead character that happens to be a vampire. It will really help you to understand the texture of that time period and the challenges and desperation as the fascists rise to power.

One final thought: you can’t live your life driven by the paranoia of the results of that cosmic dice roll. But in all honesty, some times it’s hard not to.