Martin Luther once said: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
My name is Hermann Kratochwill and I felt compelled to take a moment out of my day to create this audio podcast, originally intending to make a video, because from both an emotional and rationale standpoint I felt like I needed to plant my tree, or at least a seed, that perhaps may reach the ears and minds of others across the globe.
If you are wondering who I am and what I do and what gives me the right to dispense what Im about to say – my answer would be the following:
- Im an Austrian living in Spain.
- I work an average job among other things for a multinational company.
- And if not the freedom of speech to dispel my thoughts than be it my own stubborn self.
I am not an expert, nor do I feel qualified or certified in any manner to make any kind of analysis of all I am about to mention, rather I feel compelled to share my personal opinion based on my logical and rationale thinking, hoping to create discussion and dialogue along with constructive criticism. I am well aware that this thought pattern may not be aligned to yours and I respect that, but I ask that just the way I would hear you out on any topic I ask you hear me out.
In the recent days with the American elections and Mr. Donald J. Trump being voted the President-elect of the United States, this single event has sparked a significant amount of emotion across the globe – regardless of country, race or religion. To me it was news as many other things – whether watching Richard Quest on CNN or reports on Al Jazeera. However after reading the aforementioned quote that was posted by a friend on one of our families Whatsapp groups I put some thought into actually dispensing my thoughts as my first point of action through this audio podcast to the world. Again, the quote is by Martin Luther and to repeat it – “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Think about that and what Martin Luther meant by it.
I believe it means execute. It is our call, our duty, to take moral action and not accept, what in my opinion is happening across the globe. So I make it my call and my duty to take my first steps to rationally reach out to all of you, because I believe for a better today and tomorrow if we listen and learn from the past. I do this because I want all children including my son to have a better future. Label me crazy for making this podcast but todays day and age has allowed me to do so. And I find it is in our obligation as adults, that each generation go beyond themselves to better the world for the next generation. And I speak not of kin, but for mankind as a whole.
On the contrary to what I hear and read many people now saying – this is not a moment to sit back and simply watch what happens. I fully enjoyed watching the apprentice, Mr. Trump was a great host, but as president-elect of the United States along with what I have just read in his 100 day plan, I personally believe that many points head into the wrong direction with ripple effects on a global scale.
We humans tend to do the same thing over and over again. Just have a look at history. We always say that if something bad happens, we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again but take a moment, step back and have a look at the bigger picture. And to make it easier on all of you let me throw my thoughts out there on what the bigger picture is. Now I may be absolutely wrong, I may be right, but I want us, rather “we” as a global community to have an open dialogue. Regardless of what you believe in, I believe we can work together as humans, as one species and race, no matter what passport you may bear to enhance the global community for the better.
I am not a historian nor as previously mentioned an expert. Im what Americans would call the “average joe” and the problem with history is the fact that we humans seem to only understand what really happened in recent periods. By this I mean our parents and perhaps grandparents – so lets say a rough 2 generation slot. Somewhere around a maximum of 100 or so years. I even tend to think that goes beyond many of us, because honestly, who of you thinks about what happened in 1916, unless you’re a historian that really cares and aside from knowing that world war 1 took place. But the fact of the matter is, does it affect you today, probably no. That’s my point. We let history repeat over and over again. But I believe that through curiosity, learning, reading, studying, dialogue, and execution we can look through the propaganda in regards to our forefathers and create positive change.
Its in our human nature to be destructive. Its unfortunate but the power, the money, our egocentrical society and so forth make us greedy and greed leads to downfall. If you look at the cycle of history we as humans have these phases where we tend to blow everything up or something grandiose happens to our species and by grandiose I mean bad. Take war as an example. Now you may say, war is continuous just look across the globe and different regions, and yes that is true – and Ill link a great website below that shows you a timeline – but that is not the point I want to make. Look back at history and look at the bubonic plague, something that devasted Europe. This is an event in history that we cant even imagine. Moments you cant even fathom unless you live through them, like the battle of somme, or Hiroshima or the holocaust. A moment no one could have imagined. For those at the time it must have been the end of the world.
Yet we humans are resilient. We survived the plague, something that at the time in society must have been on the edge of a miracle. Which in turn changed the social structure of Europe – things like Depopulation created shortages of working people, wages rose, product price fell and living standard increased. Quality of life became better for people at that time. I presume. However whenever we as humans go through these moments like both worlds wars, the soviet famines, the holocaust, we always wonder if we can rise again. The list is ever ongoing of such moments in history – the collapse of the Roman Empire, Black Death, Spanish Inquisition, Thirty Years War, War of the Roses, English Civil War… it’s a long list. These are moments that have defined where we are today, oddly these massive destructions have put us in better shape, because the immediate effect on us is “we’ll never let that happen again” so we work together, we share, we support and help one another to regrow until greed kicks back in.
I believe we are at another defining moment in history. You can say the 80’s where it or the 90’s played a major role, but look at the world stage now. Its like the dot com bubble on a human scale about to burst. We all think things are fine and we brush it off, saying “lets see what happens”, or “lets make the best of what it is”. The problem is, things begin spinning out of control very fast and we begin massive destruction of ourselves. To us now, it may not be prevalent or visible. Its hard to see and its hard to understand because we are caught up in our human natured emotions. We feel left alone with no one looking after us, we feel insecure because jobs are moving on a global scale, we feel fear because others have more and we have less. But once it all happens and destruction moves in, only later do we notice and make sense of all of it. That’s human nature. Take the battle of Somme as an example. The assassination of the Austrian Arch Duke in Bosnia, a single event, led to the killing of 17 million people. Put that into perspective. And this cycle as with the previous mentioned events happens over and over again. A few warned events that would lead to WW1 but were dismissed. And Im not here to warn you about anything, but something was wrong and no one did anything about it. The same way I believe many people today dismiss Putin, Trumps election and Brexit among other things.
Look at history. World war 1 ended and we vowed something like this would never happen again, but than people began feeling that their countries were spiraling out of control, destiny was not going they way they pictured it. See any similiarties to today – an example would be the so called refugee crisis. What happened next. Charasmatic leaders captured this mood and singled out scapegoats. These populistic politicians use rhetoric that has no details and only drum up anger and hate. We the people, then led by emotional fear of not having anyone or anymore, feel as if everything is being taken from us, begin moving without much thought or knowledge, nor any logic and begin actioning for the bad (look at modern day Hungary). Find any similarities to the past?
History goes over and over again. We all know Hitler, but Mussolini, and stalin and putin and Mugabe and so on. Mugabe stirred national anger and hatred towards a white minority that were land owners, and Im not Zimbabean nor is it my place to judge what happened over the recent decades, but this anger led to the seizure of lands and redistribution in a very populist move approved by the people which in the end unraveled the economy and farming leaving people across the country now with land, but starving. Take some time to google up the famines of the Soviet Union and the Chinese communists. Millions of people die without reason because of people we put in power because they seem to be like “us”. They want to help us all, no?
What we don’t see or what we fail to realize over and over again and at this very moment is that with such people, we the masses move towards a cycle of destruction and we tend to mock and dismiss experts and critics. Look at the period prior to WW2. The treaty of Versaille, the rise of Hitler and the second world war. The reasons we fail to recognize such events and this across the globe is because we as humans, like previously mentioned in regards to timespan for one
- Only look at the present, not the past or potential future it brings along.
- We look at our immediate environment rather than the global picture. And I get it. We all do the same. I want my family to be in a better position as time moves so that I know my children have it better than I did and the cycle hopefully continues with their children should I be gone. The problem with that and our society today is how it all has become “me” and populist thinking is to utilize that exact fear of “what if I get left behind and my tomorrow, the tomorrow for my family is worse than today” rather than giving every one of us the opportunity to prosper. Again, its “we” not “I” and Ill give a bit more insight to that in a bit but lastly why we fail to recognize these cycles is –
- Most people do not do their own due diligence. That includes reading, thinking, challenge the status quo, hearing, and I mean actually hearing the opposing view and so forth.
Now, as a citizen of Austria, a citizen of Europe and a citizen of the world, I find that our earth has magnificent places, with amazing cultures and the variety of people from which to learn from. This includes the United States. Parts of my family are American, however as a non-american there is something I seem not to grasp hence this audio recording. How can someone like Trump, who when you paint the picture equals those in history become the leader of the so-called free world. He says he will make America great again. America is great. I say that as a non-US citizen. Look at nearly every statistic across the board, and not everything in life is rigged, so do your due diligence and look at those stats, because they will tell you that America is doing great across the board. Whether its unemployment or quality of life. I still cant fathom how someone who has said and done and resaid statements become president-elect of the United States. Hillary Clinton may not have been the best alternative, nor Johnson or Stein, but it shows that the passion, anger and rhetoric of one man, in the same fashion of several of his historic predecessors, a charismatic narcissist who grows a cult by tapping into our basic human instincts could catapult himself to where he his today. You can point the finger wherever you like, whether the media, or politicians, you can go blame society and so on, however if you take something away from this, than its that history has shown us time and again, that when so called leaders of the people become boss, history plays itself out the same way.
Let me throw Putin out there. A great charasmattic leader, just watch some youtube videos, you’ll come across several including ones in which he speaks to his staff and other important government officials. Very impressing. He has utilized his persona, feeding on the fear and passion of people to create a cult surrounding himself. Has Russia not become more of a dictatorship rather than democracy? Look at Turkey and Erdogan, What about Hungary, Poland and Slovakia and several other European countries all moving in the same direction. The right wings waiting for the tide of the people to turn their way once the time is ripe to feed on the fear of the masses with the same things – job insecurity, crime and freedoms. Just Google a hitler speech.
We as humans cannot let history repeat itself. We cannot point to anyone and make them a scapegoat. We alone are responsible for our destiny. Not globalization, not immigrants who supposedly are taking jobs away, not an open market allowing people the freedom of movement. We need, no, we must ask ourselves what our Archduke moment will be? What small event will trigger a massive ripple effect? Rather than coming together, we see Brexit, we see Putin, we see Trump. Everything moving towards isolation. The world no longer works that way and I get people who feel that things should be like the good old days. But we are in the good old days. When God willing I look back to these days in an old age, I’ll probably fantasize that prices in my day were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. The fact is we all need to accept inalienable truths – prices will rise, politicians will always philander and all of us will get old. The world is interconnected today. Everything affects one another and it is our responsibility to ensure that every human has the basic rights, as John Locke put them to life, liberty and property. Everyone!
We no longer can afford to live in isolation. We cant build a wall on the US southern border, we cant have a fence in hungary, because when the moment comes in our future, than in the future past that historians will trace nice lines back to these things which we may now consider unrelated events that however in our time had a major political and social shift. Just like Brexit. Just like the Hungarian fence.
Lets go back to Brexit. I am a proud Austrian. Believe me growing up I would not have the stance I have as an Austrian today, however even more so I am a prouder European and World citizen. Enlightening myself, my family and exposing my child to other cultures, other ways of life so he too may contribute to the world and to have a better understanding and respect of how we as a race of many peoples can come together is vital – all cultural differences aside. The problem with Brexit is the fact that a group of angry people won a fight and this easily inspires other angry groups of people to start a similar fight, now with where we stand in history everyone beginns to become empowered that they too may win. This thinking goes back to our greedy nature of “I”. It does not allow our children, to whom we are responsible too, the opportunity to prosper. We are fracturing ourselves. It is just like a nuclear explosion. A nuclear explosion does not occur by just one atom splitting and off goes the bomb. It’s a chain reaction – the first atom splits causing multiple other atoms near it to split, which in turn causing’s multiple other atoms to split and so forth. This exponential increase in the way the atoms in a nuclear bomb split and their combined energy are what make the bomb. Look at what is happening today with just a few of the examples I gave you. From Russia, to Hungary, to the United States to perhaps soon even my passport nation of Austria. This exponential increase in populism politics – feeding on the masses, feeding on the delusional anger, the delusional fears, and stirring the hate to make that atom split will harvest us nothing but destruction.
I’d like to take an excerpt from a great article I recently read by Tobias Stone who also inspired this and quote the following to give you insight to how a Brexit could potentially cause a chain reaction for a potential war. And to me it sounds more than plausible.
So taking the recent Brexit we have seen, this causes Italy or France to have a similar referendum. Now considering the world events, Le Pen wins an election in France. We now have a fractured European Union. I am very pro-EU, and despite its many many awful faults and beauracracy the EU has prevented war in Europe for longer than ever before. The EU in its form today, considering its economic and political power has been a major force in suppressing Putin’s military ambitions especially towards the Baltics. The sanctions Europe has put on Russia have hit the Russian economy, and helped temper and dampen Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. Now, Trump has won the US elections and Donald Trump now becomes an isolationist, which weakens NATO. He has already mentioned that he would not automatically honor any NATO commitments in the face of a Russian attack on the Baltics.
We now have a fractured EU, along with a NATO that has been weakened, meaning that Putin, who is facing a continuous economic and social crisis in Russia, somehow needs to defer attention to some foreign distraction and needs the Russian people to support him in doing so. Russia funds the far right anti-EU activists in Latvia, who then create a reason for an uprising of the Russian Latvians in the East of the country where we find the EU border with Russia. Just the way we recently saw it in the Ukraine, Russia sends so called ‘peace keeping forces’ and ‘aid lorries’ into Latvia, like in Georgia. He annexes Eastern Latvia as he did Eastern Ukraine – both having similar populations – Crimea with roughly 1.9million and Latvia with just over 2 million.
We now have a divided Europe where the leaders of France, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and others are now pro-Russia, anti-EU, who overrule any calls for sanctions or a military response to what Russia is doing. Considering Trumps stance on NATO, the response is slow and the United States does not want to be involved. Now we have a free moving Russia with no resistance to move deeper into Latvia, eastern Estonia and Lithuania. Considering this move the Baltic States declare war on Russia and start to retaliate considering their sovereign territory has been invaded. Part of Europe sides with them, some countries remain neutral, and a few side with Russia. What would Erdogan do with Turkey and what role would ISIS play in all of this remains an open question. Who will use the first nuclear bomb?
This scenario painted out is very plausible by Mr. Stone despite it being a hypothetical scenario, but if I were a newscaster and just announced this segment to you, you would be in panic and perhaps shock at this point depending on where you lived before revealing that this was just a future scenario. Nonetheless, looking back at the Archduke of Austria. This could be that potential scenario that gets things rolling. But don’t misunderstand me. Im not saying we are necessarily heading into a third world war, at least we are not there yet. The point again is to be vigilant. To remain logical, continue to be passionate, but for the right reasons. We the people, each one of us, are responsible for who we allow to what we in society call “rule over” us. We need to be cautious and vigilant to whom we Give power to execute on the laws commonly laid out by those we believe speak for all of us and on what we hope is the best for our so-called nations which in turn should allow every one of us to prosper, yet what we see in the world today – the fracturing of ethnic groups and countries, from Catalonia to the Hungarians of Romania, from Scotland to Northern Cyprus, from classifying people based on religion, to the separation of rich and poor, trying to fill the gap of the middle class – this is what populism feeds on. These people utilize these fears that should be non-existent because we need to stop thinking the “I” and rather strengthen the path of “we”.
The scenarios are limitless. It is our choice. Just like business, the world is dynamic. Any one event could cause a major ripple effect and history has shown us time and again that we are now what I belive to be the fork in the road. Everything has been leading up to this point and if history is right, we will take the road of evil – because what each one of us in our microcosms believe to be best for “my kind” rather than “for all”. We the masses will not see it coming, yet we are the ones that will feed it, unless each one of us makes that choice to put out their hand out and welcome thy neighbor, to plant the apple tree.
I fully understand the eventual consequences of this audio podcast, the potential sarcastic and dismissive comments on what I mention on some of our current world leaders, around Brexit, around my comparisons to Hitler and who am I to assess the world stage. I want this to spur discussion, to have each one of us benchmark our moral ideals for society, for us as humanity to define what our children will look back on. As Stone says in his article: Ignoring what is happening is like a doctor telling you to stop smoking, only to find out that you have developed cancer years later. One little things leads to something else which could have been prevented if we all rationally sat down, listened and reasoned with ourselves, not as ethnic groups, not as regions, not as nations, but as a global community. The problem is, people smoke anyways, and people die from it. Unfortunately (or fortunately) depending on how you want to see it, humans are wired this way.
I don’t want to sound pessimistic. I have faith. I want action. I want understanding. I want all of us to listen. I do not want a Battle of Somme, because, you may label me nuts, my rationale tells me that this is just the beginning. Ask all the Turkish teachers, journalists and lawyers, the Russian dissdents in gulags and those in French hospitals due to terror attacks. We as people cannot be divided. We cannot be put into fear because we as masses believe that others will take jobs, that society is breaking down, that crime can only be dealt with through the renunciation of civil liberties. We cannot take what we have today for granted. Some of us live a great life, some of us struggle, yet despite our day to day problems, the opportunities we have to prosper are right there in front of us. We as one people – regardless of race, skin color, education level, job title, passport, religion, or any other form of human classification need to go beyond ourselves, smile, help and be helped and transition a better world to those that come after us. We cannot become divided. We need to be vigilant and aware, for the few not to suppress the many in the name of all. We need to harness the good of humanity. I don’t want to finish off sounding naïve in regards to world problems, but we must walk across the bridge together, getting rid of the ever widening gap in our societies and move away from “I” – and begin thinking “WE”.
I truly hope that the future re bigger than Trump and other world leaders themselves. I will remain vigilant. I ask you to do the same.
This is my Apple Tree.