What were they thinking?

I’m sitting here watching “JFK: Reckless Youth” as I write this.  It’s a three hour movie starring Patrick Dempsey.  Let’s just say McDreamy is highly esteemed in this household.  The movie has been talking about Hitler and the Nazis.  I’ve wondered a lot recently, what were the Germans thinking during the Nazi regime?  Hitler has been demonized completely since that time, for good reason, so how did the German people allow him to do all of his nefarious deeds?  Was the average German a coward, terrified to challenge the Nazi authority?  Did he/she believe the propaganda and think Hitler was doing the right thing?  Was he/she ignorant of what was going on?  Maybe the average German thought that if Hitler gained more and more power that their life would be safer and richer.  It could be a mix of all of these things, I don’t really know.  This is something we should think about today.  Hitler took away civil rights, declared himself supreme ruler, and killed many people.  How do we know we’re not falling under the same kind of spell?  The German people may have been ignorant and apathetic, brainwashed and proud, or disgruntled and powerless.  Either way, Hitler was allowed to do his damage.  What went wrong with the German people?

History can teach us many things if we are to listen to it.  If we turn a deaf ear, it is also bound to repeat itself.  Welcome to the time loop.  Many of the people in this country have been bound inside a time bubble.  They can’t understand the past and can’t feel into the future…and worst of all, they can’t relax into the present.  We’re taught as kids that the United States is the most powerful and free country in the world and could never be defeated.  Sure we knew about Independence Day and that at one point in the past the U.S. didn’t exist, but the belief instilled in us is that the U.S. always was and always will be…the seeds of complacency…everything’s fine, trust me.  It’s not that we really thought the U.S. had always existed, but just that it didn’t matter to even ponder the past, since we were living in the most liberated country in the world.  We were free, we were on the right team, so why worry about the time before that reality?  Why question the notions of ‘freedom’ when we were told we were free?  At least that was my experience as a school boy.

Yes, I’m gliding around and around the same sorts of ideas in this post…question everything and realize that you may not know everything in your little bubble.  But I guess the point I’m getting at is the benefits of putting yourself in another’s shoes to learn about your own life.  It’s nothing that hasn’t been said before.  Just understand that everything hasn’t always been as it is now, yet things the same things are always reoccurring.  For instance, in ten years, a child may consider it ‘normal’ to have to carry around a National ID card in the United States.  He might think it silly to imagine a world without an National ID card, since it would be all he knows.  Business as usual for the little chap.  He may not realize that Hitler wanted people to carry around national identification papers.  Blissful ignorance?

I was really meaning to write this post about the potential dangers of cell phones.  There are studies that say cell phones are safe and there are others that don’t.  Maybe they’re safe in the short term.  Maybe not.  Maybe in forty years, people will be dying from brain tumors in droves.  I don’t know.  Are you willing to take that risk?  I’m sure if you are a heavy cell phone user that you will naturally gravitate toward the studies that downplay or disregard any potential risks.  Don’t worry, that’s a fairly common psychological reaction.  Ignorance is bliss, right?  How’s your head?  I read an article recently that made a connection to the phenomenon of cigarette smoking and cell phone use.  What do you think the people were thinking when cigarettes were first marketed and the tobacco companies were telling them they were safe and cool?  Is that a correlation worth noting?  Nothing to see here; don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain.  Honestly, I’m not saying cell phones are harmful and can potentially cause cancer because I’m not an expert and I don’t know for sure.  But I also can’t say for sure that they’re safe.  The ‘experts’ might not even be able to understand how the cell radiation affects the human body at this point in time. 

I would hope that cell phones are safe for all those who use them currently.  I do think it’s necessary for the issue to at least acknowledge.  Some people may not even realize that this even is an issue and that there are those that warn of serious risks from cell phone use.  I guess only time will tell… 


  1. I think what most people don’t realize when they look at Germany before Hitler is that it (the rise of a demagogue/dictator) could happen almost anywhere. As long as the preconditions are there, i.e., national dissatisfaction or “lean times”, the nation will start to radicalize, leaning more to the right or to the left. This is nothing new in human history. The United States is unique as a nation in that we have no previous monarchal traditions to fall back on. Btw, the Germans still have a national ID card, it’s called an Ausweis.

    The passage of time does not mean that the nation is making progress.

    And lastly, the real reason I came to your site tonight was that I read (I think on Facebook, which you must never check) that you and Rebekah went to Cancun last fall. Nicole and I are going for Spring Break, and if you had any advice for what specifically to go see, or what you enjoyed, or whatever, shoot me an email. Thanks.

    - mark sier (Jan 27, 2007)

  2. Also, congratulations to your basset hound for having an exceptionally long tail! From the picture posted I could see a total of 6 basset hounds, which made me smile as I thought of walking through a park filled with basset hounds one day and wondering what the hell was going on…

    - mark sier (Jan 27, 2007)

  3. Mark, I appreciate your thoughtful response to my post.

    By the way, this is Russ, not Rett. You’re reading ‘Notes from Russ’ nestled snuggly within the confines of rettmartin.com. Remember me from the dorms? I’m the ‘other guy’ who roomed with Rett. You know, the guy many people accidentally called Rett by mistake. Kidding aside, in response to your comment, I don’t believe the United States was created out of a vacuum and any nation can decend into tyranny if consolidation of powers is left unchecked.

    - Russ (Jan 29, 2007)

  4. Haha, that was great,…but Russ, they didn’t call you Rett, in fact I think it was the combo morph name “Rutt” that we both got. Oh the challenges of being two goodlooking roommates.

    Hey Mark! I will definitely send you an email with some recommendations, or since I don’t have your email, maybe I can contact you via facebook? I’ll check. And I’m glad you liked the basset photo, it was pretty strange to see that many of the same breed in the same place (there were several hundred).

    - Rett (Jan 29, 2007)

  5. By the way Russ, I meant to ask, do you let your little girls talk on the cell phone?

    - Rett (Jan 29, 2007)

  6. hey guys,

    literally as i hit the “submit” button I figured out that it was Russ’s page….I felt pretty stupid right about then…yeah russ of course i remember you, me and Sack were just talking about you the other day. Heard AA and lindsay were getting hitched…how’d he propose?

    - mark sier (Jan 30, 2007)

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