Some Thoughts Regarding the Recent Tragic Events in Charlottesville, Virginia
By Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
On my way to the farm where I raise Black Angus cows as a hobby, I asked my frequent companion, grandson Igor, who is a biochemist in Duke University, “What do you think of the state of our modern world?” He and I ponder issues like that often. His response was quite pointed and remarkably accurate, “We are all now of the same household, Pappou.”
Indeed. Instant and massive communications and equally-massive movement of populations back-and-forth, rapid universal development in the area of technology and overall scientific discoveries, have made our planet a gathering of neighborhoods, as it were. There is also an overall elevation in the quality of life. All are the result of mutual cooperation and trade of goods, ideas, and cooperative agreements.
There also exists a universal awareness of the development of problems that are of our own making, and that may well endanger us as a species, such as climate disorder and the destruction of biodiversity — many species of life are becoming extinct and the richness of biodiversity contributes to the stability of all life on Earth.
We are also, witnessing the rise of mega states like China, India, Europe, Russia, Brazil, and the increasingly glued-together African continent. And of course, the most important of all, us, the United States of America, which as a leader has provided the moral and intellectual guidelines for the entire world for the last two centuries. (And, one hopes, still does.)
In addition, we are all increasingly becoming interdependent and almost equally strong, since we all have the same weapons of mass destruction. So, paradoxically, and to the benefit of all humanity, each empire is unable to exercise their imperial prerogatives, such as desires for conquest and unfair advantage as empires have done, often in the past — aside of the existence of some, small, proxy wars, here and there.
Furthermore, and fortunately for all of us, as evidence of our own flexibility as a species; governments and those governed are becoming aware of the dangers and reluctantly are holding back obsolete, tribal-inane habits; instead, we form mutually advantageous agreements to benefit us all, protect the planet, and avoid catastrophic World Wars. A classic example is the increasing importance and durability of the United Nations organization, with a myriad of branches of activities benefiting all countries, especially small ones. We are also learning that humans are not naturally born killers, but the killing instinct built in us is ready to be expressed collectively protecting one’s homeland, when threatened.
Unfortunately, and frequently, self-serving, gifted and talented, unscrupulous chieftains are able to mobilize such collective instinct for killing; not because there is a present threat to one’s country, but for their own glory, power and profit, they have falsely led their country to wars for their own personal, political profit. They still do. An example from the present time is an inane, meaningless war initiated by the leadership of our country, a few years ago unneeded except for the advantages of the chieftain and the profit for the war industry (President Eisenhower warned us of such an event). This ongoing war has cost us literally, two trillion dollars while killing over 300,000 people with no discernible benefit to our own country. It left behind a country in disarray and the emergence of a group calling themselves “martyrs,” while, we call them “terrorists,” bending themselves to kill us by sacrificing themselves.
Fortunately, there is an emerging world-wide trend resulting in the development of an additional sense of identity and loyalty besides the one each of us has for our own local tribe: that is the feeling of being a world-wide citizen. This last development may be disturbing for many of us, who are reacting by a heightening tribalism, exhibiting its dark side of bigotry and racism. It recently was expressed in overt, racial hatred by groups that assigned themselves superiority, malevolence, and hate. It resulted in the murder of a woman expressing her own fears for the malevolence of an enraged twenty-year-old extremist.
It was particularly painful event in our beloved country which actually is made up of citizens from myriad of ethnicities, origins, and backgrounds. We are bound together by the common ideals and mutual respect for each others’ views and faiths.
This painful personal feeling became unbearable when, to my astonishment, our own President — who has been elected to promote and guide us as well as display a sense of mutual respect — proclaimed that these self-named white supremacist killers just expressed their views, just like anybody else! I am sure this painful feeling was shared by many millions of my fellow citizens, whom themselves or loved ones were the victims of such murderous fury by the Nazis in Europe, whose beliefs and practices these local self-proclaimed white supremacists emulate.
Such fury and malevolence was witnessed by this writer when he became a victim himself, as a thirteen-year-old boy in Salonika, Greece — the country of his origin. Besides his own losses, he witnessed 60,000 fellow Greeks of Jewish faith lined up to be murdered in Dachau.
I fervently hope, as doubtless as many millions of my fellow citizens do, that our President will remember that along with his other duties is to promote cohesiveness, mutual respect and love for each other in our country especially given our diversity. The murdering Nazis there were like the white supremacists Nazis here. Then they recruited Christianity by engraving in their belt buckles the words “Gott Mit Uns,” (that means “God on our side”).
Myself, being aware of the history of my new, beloved country for sixty-years now, I believe that our institutions and ethos are well established and enduring. Our new President, an intelligent man, he may have to revisit his function, and duties for facilitating respect and harmony of our country.