As Remembrance Day approaches for 2022, the world is in a bleak place. In all the years since the second, we have never been so close to a third World War, except perhaps at the height of the Cold War.
There is a disturbing trend towards admiration for autocracy over the messiness and imperfection of democracy.
Nowhere can this be better seen than the open love and dare we say envy displayed by some of our world leaders for the horrific Vladimir Putin and his entirely unjustifiable power grab in Ukraine. The war there has left millions displaced and thousands dead, and troops commit atrocities against civilians with impunity, or even approval from their commanders.
And yet Silvio Berlusconi is headed back into the Italian government even as he celebrates his figurative love affair with Putin, who is Russia’s dictator in all but name.
And who can forget Donald Trump’s lavish praise, both while and after he was in the highest office in the United States. Now many of his right-wing compatriots are talking seriously about slashing aid to Ukraine.
Let’s not get started on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary or Xi Jinping of China.
One cannot help but think that many of these leaders would love to be able to do the things that Putin, and Xi Jinping do — jail (or worse) their political opponents, crush protest, make it illegal to even utter the truth (yes, it certainly is a war going on in Ukraine) let alone opposition. They gaze with covetousness at the leader able to rule unchallenged.
We have far too many people in power who do not seem to care that a nuclear war would obliterate our planet. We have forgotten, or deliberately twisted our history until it is being used to support the most appalling actions and beliefs.
Pair that with a population who can increasingly be convinced to believe anything — even the most loony, literally unreal garbage and we’re standing on a precipice.
People believe nonsense conspiracy theories like QAnon so deeply they alienate friends and family. They sound as if they have joined a cult, a dangerous one.
Increasingly the general populace seems unable to tell truth from even far-fetched fiction.
How easy would it be for a populist, autocratic ruler, then, to turn people against one another? Indeed, it is already happening.
The peace that our veterans of the First and Second World Wars fought and paid for is in serious peril. Time for a real history lesson and a class in how to judge when information is credible and when it is not.