Over the holiday break, while lying around and trying to recover from 2021, I found myself getting caught up on a lot of different shows…some decent, some awful, and, as it turns out, too many obsessed with Baby Hitler for some coincidental (I hope) reason.
In a surprise to no one, most of the Hitler-related references were Covid based because, apparently, we’ve all finally realized that we’re literally living in the worst time in history since Hitler, an uplifting thought to say the least. Shows such as “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” (mediocre at best) and the “South Park Post Covid, the Return of Covid,” special (not as good as the first one), both had lengthy time-travel related dialogues about the pros and cons of going back in time and having the opportunity to kill Hitler as a baby.
Since we live in a time when most grown adults have both the intelligence and attention span of a third-grader, such seemingly obvious assertions almost always come with a reaction of “well duh, of course, I would kill Hitler as a baby.” Because, you know, that would stop the holocaust, World War II, and all of that other horribleness.
This is all incorrect.
Allow me to rephrase; this is all so infantile, no pun intended. The unknowable truth is that killing Hitler as a baby may, in fact, prevent the holocaust and World War II, but that doesn’t mean it would have led to a better ultimate outcome. Needless suffering, genocide, and life-altering maniacal devastation are, of course, beyond atrocious. The argument against killing Baby Hitler isn’t a pro-Hitler stance; it’s an acknowledgment and understanding of the endless presence of evil and the emergence of a stronger world as a result of confronting it. America never would have become what it did in the second half of the 20th century were it not for Hitler.
Additionally, Hitler was far from the only bad actor in the late 1930’s and early 40’s. He’s the figurehead now credited most commonly, but to suggest that Benito Mussolini wouldn’t have filled the vacuum is as unknowable as anything when you contemplate altering history. And on that note, have we learned nothing from Family Guy and Star Trek about the perils of time travel and creating new timelines?
Ok, ok…no, I’m not really going to spend the entire time explaining why killing Baby Hitler remains a bad idea, but is metaphoric to our times.
When Betty White passed away last week my first thought was “what a terrible way to spend your final two years, she would have been so much better off dying two years ago.” The better thought would be that in a just universe, she would have lived a couple more years to see our way out of the mess we’re in now. And that’s the real message; we will see our way out of this.
This, to be clear, is so much more than just Covid. It’s the pure and simple state of our society en masse. We’re a mess; we’re more isolated from one another than ever, we seek no truths, we don’t disagree with people rather we want them annihilated, we’re tribal politically in dangerous ways, we have lost all ability to critically think, we’re addicted to technology and social media while ignoring the devastating effects that has on our mental health, we’re medicating ourselves with substances more than at any other time in our history, we trust essentially no one, we’re offended by everything, we coddle and cater to the lowest common denominators in our society, we’re humorless, and no one knows how to drive anymore.
As awful as all of this is right now, we need to go through it. We don’t kill Baby Hitler and we don’t go back to summer 2019 and stop Covid. We don’t kill baby Fauci and we don’t alter the outcome of the 2020 election. There is a purpose to all of this, it’s just unknowable to us what that purpose is right now.
Prior to Covid, we had my dad on the air and we were discussing how bad the state of society was. Yes, that was PRIOR to covid. He spoke eloquently and confidently about why he was certain America would get through, recover, and recalibrate. I’ve asked him multiple times over the last two years if he still feels that way; through covid, after the capitol riots, and near the end of 2021, and he has never wavered. He, like I, has no idea exactly how or when there will be a seismic shift back towards a more positive America, but he, unlike I, is certain of it.
Dawn has recently adopted the theory that the reason elderly people tend to sit quietly while the rest of the room, filled with younger people babble on, is that they’ve seen and lived it all and they know how stupid all of us are with the things we worry about, get worked up over, and waste time on. And they also know that it’s our process that we have to go through until we figure it out. So, as 2022 begins, I personally have no faith that this year will be the year that we see a seminal change in the direction of our society, but I do have faith in my 90-year-old father’s long-term prediction. After all, he’s been alive since Hitler was made chancellor, so, like Farmers Insurance, he knows a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two. In Horace, I shall trust.