Just over a week ago, while driving over to a cinema close to Master’s home, I listened to the inauguration of the 45th president of the USA. Having observed the way in which Trump rose in popularity over the past couple of years and then was elected, I was interested to hear what he would actually say. Being the even minded person I am, I thought that his words could be taken one of two ways, that overall perhaps the measures he proposed would be good for the country or else they would be very very bad. I had a hunch that his idea of putting America and Americans first would be less good for everyone else. It turns out that they probably won’t be brilliant for many of his own population either.
Whatever the long term effects of policy on healthcare (which seems to involve dismantling what is there without a clue as to a replacement), on abortion and women’s rights, on human rights, on creating jobs by building pipelines and roads, on walls along borders or immigration. It seems to me that Trump wishes to control peoples lives, he wants to stop free speech and perhaps free thought. He wants to instil his beliefs in others, never mind whether they are based on misinformation, lies or bigotry.
Now apparently you can’t visit, or return to the USA if you are from a list of countries where the main religion is islam, and probably you would be wise not to try visit if you are moslem anyway. Apparently people’s political and religious beliefs are being reviewed by border immigration through social media contained on their phone. This kind of thing will probably spread to other visitors or even Americans returning home, whether Moslem or not.
Discrimination breeds fear and bigotry. It makes people intolerant and it causes people to lash out against each other. People become angry, they group together and convince themselves and each other that they need to lash out and to kill. My son was born during the first gulf war. I remember watching the news at night, while pregnant and wondering what kind of world I was bringing him up in. People were dropping bombs and missiles on each other, ordinary people as well as those in the military were held hostage. Death and destruction abounded. During those pre- 9/11 days we thought this was the worst it could get.
How wrong we were. It seems to me we have learnt nothing from the world wars of the 20th century, or anything that has come along to test us since. We are intolerant of the difference of others, and rather than try to understand we lash out and we kill.
I wish I felt positive about the next 4 years of the Trump presidency, but I don’t. If he believes that a country can prosper on the back of hate and bigotry he is wrong. If we think we are safe because we live across an ocean from America and can avoid the consequences, we are wrong.
Earlier this month, Master and I were in Belgium. For the first time, I visited the area where some of the first world war battles took place. 100 years later this is a bleak and sad area, but an area where people are respectful of the past, of the suffering that occured and the sacrifice that took place. Where people fought because they believed they would defeat tyranny. Or they fought to defend their ruler and their country. The result was carnage and really there were no winners. It didn’t stop further war and it hasn’t stopped this sad world in which we find ourselves living.
|Tyne Cot Cemetery|
|Last post at Ieper|
|Langemark German Cemetery|