I've been thinking about Spain today and an acquaintance of mine who I've known for almost 12 years. He happens to own a beautiful family run hotel with a million dollar view perched high in the mountains of southern Spain. He is old enough to remember the Franco era. For those of you who may not know, Francisco Franco was the facsist dictator of Spain who rose to power during the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death. After his death Spain became a democracy. Franco came into power with the help of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. The resistance consisted of numerous factions who, unfortunately, could never unify and many were brutally murdered or put in political prisons. This scenario conjures up many similarities with what recently happened in the last election. I'm continuously surprised at the parallels. 

When people ask what it would take to get a Trump supporter to regret voting him into office, I'm reminded of my friend Pepe who proudly owns a little private museum where he keeps a very impressive collection of Franco memorabilia including a black and white photo of him standing with Franco and a few other important dignitaries. Pepe still misses Franco. He has never regretted being part of that brutal movement to this day. Such is the human brain when it comes to changing our minds. We latch on to a belief or thought and it becomes dominant, often defining who we think we are and how we solve problems. Our brains often sabotage our own well being, over and over again.

Pepe is a man who loves his kids and works hard to provide for his family, but when he invites guests to enter his little shrine for Franco, they are often speechless and unprepared for what they encounter. I was one of those guests once upon a time. There were about 12 of us staying at the hotel. An entire British walking group enjoying their adventures on the surrounding mountain paths and I were escorted to see his little, private museum. None of us knew what to say when we saw it.  We could barely look at one another except behind Pepe's back with raised eyebrows. His pride was evident and it flew in the face of our knowledge of history. It opened my eyes to the limitations of the human brain  to reach logical conclusions. People don't surprise me any more.

Teresa is the author of several books. She explores creative paths to freedom, alternative lifestyles, living without debt and cultural expectations that limit our potential. She is a myth buster by trade. Her most recent book  Have We been Screwed? Trading Freedom fro Fairy Tales can be purchased on Amazon. http://amzn.to/2wMzGC7

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Comment by Loren Miller on September 16, 2017 at 8:53pm

Depends on what you mean by "we."  There are aware people out there, people who care about themselves and what is around them.  They're aware that their actions have consequences and they at least try to be responsible in their interactions with others.  Part of all of that is learning – learning from life, learning from teachers, learning from friends (and enemies) ... and bothering to learn what's happened before now, so we don't fall into George Santayana's trap.

And some people either don't give a damn, don't think they have the time, or are actually determined to screw things up for whatever reason.  The question becomes: how many of each kind are there, what kind of influence they have and what will be the result of the tug of war between those two sides?

And there isn't just one answer, because the question goes on and on.

Comment by Daniel W on September 8, 2017 at 2:47pm

Joan, here is one list of holocaust victims' and survivors' names.

Here is another. The home town of Mannheim was in family verbal history as a place where my great-great grandparents lived, but not more recent.

I did not include the "er" suffix, although names being shortened is not unusual and there could still be a connection.

Comment by Teresa Roberts on September 8, 2017 at 2:18pm

Thanks for the recommendation, Bertold. I've written a book that kinda sorta falls into the category of great myths and cultural constructs that like religion lull us into compliance while potentially doing damage to our creative spirits. Maybe you'd consider taking a look at it. I've provided a link to it  at the bottom of my blog post. Just saying ...... 

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on September 8, 2017 at 11:56am

Speaking of "vibrant and amazing" studies, I'm halfway through a book I can't recommend highly enough. It articulates with great insight and wonderfully snarky wit how magical thinking has been at the core of the American enterprise from the very beginning.

. . . while there are believers in flamboyant supernaturalism and prophecy and religious pseudoscience in other developed countries, nowhere else in the rich world are such beliefs central to the self-identities of so many people. We are Fantasyland's global crucible and epicenter.

. . . America was created by true believers and passionate dreamers, by hucksters and their suckers—which over the course of four centuries has made us susceptible to fantasy, as epitomized by everything from Salem hunting witches to Joseph Smith creating Mormonism, from P.T. Barnum to Henry David Thoreau to speaking in tongues, from Hollywood to Scientology to conspiracy theories, from Walt Disney to Billy Graham to Ronald Reagan to Oprah Winfrey to Donald Trump. In other words: mix epic individualism with extreme religion; mix show business with everything else; let all that steep and simmer for a few centuries; run it through the anything-goes 1960s and the Internet age; the result is the America we inhabit today, where reality and fantasy are weirdly and dangerously blurred and commingled.

Century by century the book details the endless religious grifting that's infested our entire history. I truly believe it should be required reading for every high school student. It doesn't tune up your chakras, but it sure tunes up your bullshit detector.

I'm antsy with anticipation because Andersen has a book due out in November on Trump co-authored with Alec Baldwin.

Can't resist one more quote:

I still remember the day at the end of sixth grade when I came home from school and saw the cover of the latest issue of Time, with no picture, just huge red letters against a plain black background: IS GOD DEAD? I didn’t read it at the time, but it pleased me. finally, the official publication of upper-middle Americanism was ratifying what the smart people knew but were too polite to say in public: in the modern world, religion had reached its sell-by date.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 8, 2017 at 11:54am

Bertold, I added your recommendation, Fantasy Land, to my reading list. Thanks, I am interested in that kind of history, i.e. Howard Zinn's A People's History Of The United States.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 8, 2017 at 11:43am

A wonderful memory you shared, Daniel.

I lived next door to a German lady for many years and she insisted the Holocaust was a fraud against the German people, that it never happened, and the German people were good. I am confident Germans are a "good" people, they work hard, are very good traders, and have a rich heritage. The Germanic people tend to live a disciplined life and the US was a natural place for them to seek; they could progress according to their wisdom and work. My Germanic relatives reported to us that they were locked into a caste system in Germany and could not benefit by a strong work ethic.

Do you have the names from the Holocaust list of the dead named Wachenheim? Can you trace common relatives with them?

Comment by Daniel W on September 8, 2017 at 11:20am

Oh, I wanted to add a personal memory.  I grew up in a small midwestern farm/factory town in the midwest, a region that once referred to itself as "Forgotonia".  There was an immigrant German community and Germantown part of town, where my paternal great-grandparents, grandparents, and great aunts lived.  They stil have Oktoberfest there.  They immigrated from the Rhineland area in the 1880s.  Their children - my great grandparents and grandparents generation - were sent to German language schools, and they went to German churches.  My grandfather spoke poor, and archaic, German, but corrected me when I took it in high school.  My family was older than my friends' families, due to 2 generations having their children later in life.  

That's a long lead up to a short comment.  :-)  I remember my sweet elderly great aunt Rose, telling me as a teenager that Germans are not as bad as people say.  She said they were persecuted, and unfairly treated and unfairly criticized.  She never went so far as to say the Nazis were basically good people, but somewhere in there I felt that.  Her brother, my grandfather, claimed that they had Jewish ancestors.  I remember he did that to tease her, because of some undercurrent of antisemitism, I thought.  I didn't know, until I did genealogy research and DNA testing, that he was telling the truth.  I wonder if he knew that?  My surname happens on the Holocaust victims list several times.

Comment by Daniel W on September 8, 2017 at 11:05am

Thanks for the post, Teresa. 

I think there are people who do learn a lot from history.  There is a lot of interest in history, and many many books and articles.  It's kind of a "glass half empty / half full" thing, because probably the majority of people know very little history.  It's up for the rest of us to inform and inspire them, sometimes.  People think history is dry, but it isn't.  It's a vibrant and amazing study into the human psyche, and we really don't change a lot.  Including demagogues, emperors, kings, soldiers, and "the masses".

I was moved when reading Adam Hochschild's books about Americans in the Spanish Civil War, "Spain in our Hearts"   And wasn't Munro Leaf's child's book about Ferdinand the Bull sort of a metaphor for nonviolence, partly due to the war?  I'm not sure about that, or the timing, but somehow it comes to mind.

Your posts are always very interesting.  Thank you.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 8, 2017 at 2:50am

Your review of Spanish history rings an alarm for me with our current political affairs. 

"Franco came into power with the help of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy."

How did tRump come into power? What are his goals? What signs of fascism can we observe and report to others? 

Now, as to Pepe, I know people like that from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. These people seem to have safes in their brains with locks with no keys. They spout the old slogans of hatred and wonder why others shrink away from them in disgust and trepidation. When I see two of the "Pepe" types together, it sends shivers through my mind and heart; they are the new hate mongers infecting this next generation, especially when individuals are unhappy because of problems beyond their control. High unemployment, jobs requiring other skills than they have, no vision of a better life, feeling trapped and helpless. These individuals learned to be helpless. 

Conditioned, as Pavlov's dogs that were conditioned to salivate at the ring of a bell, today's disenfranchised feel new panic with each new disaster. They keep doing the same things, getting nowhere. They feel hopeless and learned how to feel helpless. 

I trained rats to be helpless in my undergraduate training and it was very easy. The rats had to experience being out of control and helpless. We did it with controlling the rat's supply of food pellets. The rats had to LEARN to push a lever to get a food pellet.

When that task was learned, we slowly withheld pellets and the rats continued to press the lever. We timed the release of pellets to five times they were required to push the lever, then 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, 320, and kept doubling the number of times the rat had to press to get one tablet. When the rats finally stopped pushing the lever, we counted how many times she pushed the last time and then we ended the experiment. Sometimes they continued to press for 200 or 300 presses before they gave up and stopped pressing the lever. Their learned behavior was extinguished. 

By the way, we had a machine that dispensed the pellets, one at a time. We controlled the number of presses required to get a pellet and the machine recorded the progression. 

This was called conditioning.

Farmers getting less yield from their crops in spite of increasing the amount of nitrogen and other fertilizers, top soil eroding away, unpredictable prices for their crops, reduction of income, used up savings, loss of farms or selling off parcels of land to real estate developments, the farmers begin to feel helpless and hopeless. 

People who work for wages get laid off, production continues, even with fewer people, while few people buy fewer things. Without wages, they can't buy and manufacturers reduce production and workers. More unemployment. 

Reduction in government spending requires layoffs, creating, even more, people unable to spend money they don't have. 

Loss of income, loss of taxes to municipalities and they lay off people. Austerity reaches state and federal level and the economy grinds to a halt. 

Climate change, weather patterns worsen, and flooding destroys whole communities. People feel out of control, hopeless, and helpless. 

Rain pattern change causing years of drought. Soils dry out, then the forest dry, only to flash into flames from natural causes and human made causes. Farms, home, towns, and even cities face conflagration. Firestorms grow out of control and people feel hopeless and helpless.

Threats from N Korea and psyching people up for war means that they call for volunteers of our young men and women and cycle toward; some will make financial fortunes, others will give their lives. But this time, the war will be different.

Comment by kathy: ky on September 7, 2017 at 9:44pm
NO. If we did we would not continually make the same mistakes.


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