February 24, 2022- Once upon a time, in an Austrian town, a little boy was regularly terrorized by his father. The boy wanted his father to respect him, so he internalized his father’s brutish manners and refused to cry after his beatings. When his father died, the boy was 13 and assumed the title Haus Herr. He would beat his younger sister, in the way his father had beaten him.
The boy grew into manhood, served in his country’s army and resented any weakness he encountered in society, including that of government officials. He tried to overthrow that government, was arrested, tried and imprisoned. Once he was released, he joined with like-minded authoritarians, succeeded in overthrowing the government and led his country into oblivion. The world remembers him as Adolf Hitler, the original Fuehrer.
Many, since, have followed in Hitler’s footsteps. Some have had abysmal childhoods, even if they enjoyed material comfort-as Hitler himself did. Others lived meager, miserable lives in childhood, but were spoiled by their parents, to the best of the parents’ ability.
One of the latter is Vladimir Putin, who grew up in a tenement in what is now St. Petersburg, facing off against rats, who taught him the meaning of fighting when cornered. He also faced off against human bullies, and became a judo master, in response. Becoming self-reliant, and having been pampered with expensive gifts on occasion, in a nutshell made Putin value machismo and greed.
Fast forward to our present day. A series of perceived personal affronts has led the Russian autocrat to execute an invasion of Russia’s southwestern neighbour, Ukraine. Authoritarian personages, the world over, have congratulated him for his strength-even gaslighting the Jewish president of Ukraine as “a tyrant” and “a Nazi”. While there are people who believe in Nazi philosophy in a good many countries around the world-including Ukraine, Russia, the United States, United Kingdom, Germany itself, such fawning over the actions of the Russian government do little or nothing to extinguish the other dreadful philosophy. Indeed, the sycophants’ boast, that the Russian people themselves support their government’s actions, is belied by the massive demonstrations, both organized and spontaneous, around the Federation.
Han’ba is the Romanized form of the Ukrainian word for infamy. It is that sort of time in our lives.