The Power of Knowledge

In the world of today, where you have a racist neo-nazi uprising in Europe, where Trump gets a free pass in saying racists slurs, and ISIS talks about global domination, I see history repeating itself – over and over again.

I always found Hitler an interesting man. I have over the years tried to understand what it is that gets millions of people to follow such a man and do horrible unthinkable things. I wanted to understand how it was possible for this one man to convince millions to believe his own reality and perception, acting on his beliefs, and follow him blindly.

I came to realise that Hitler is not the only one with this power, and this is why history keeps repeating itself. In more contemporary history we have the the neo-nazi uprising, Trump, Putin and ISIS following the same kind of speech:

“[They] are seeking to destroy our country. [They are] threatening us with [their] might, and [our nation] is in danger. Yes – danger from within and without. We need law and order! Without it our nation cannot survive.”

This is actually adapted from a quote from a campaign speech by Hitler in 1932, the year before he got elected.

What all these leaders and groups have in common is charisma, an enemy and a story. In all cases they use fear to recruit more into their movement and convince them about the cause, a cause they would die and kill for.

Fear is a powerful emotion, and from there comes hate. Yet, a lot of this fear comes from lack of knowledge, the fear of the unknown. Leaders that preach war and hate use fear to reach their goals and start movements. With fear they make people believe their cause, and with fear they win.

Our strongest tool against these movements is knowledge and critical thinking. That is how we stop governments cheating us, companies abusing us, global wars and bullies.

“Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.” – Thomas Aquinas

We have therefore the obligation to each other to spread knowledge – not fear.