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As we grow older we are expected to know stuff, to acquire something approaching wisdom through experience and observation. However, as I age bewilderment and disappointment far outweigh my wisdom. I’m disappointed in us. From the top to the bottom of society we act and argue like children forming gangs in the schoolyard led by the loudest and strongest bullies.

These Bullies take all forms from xenophobic politicians to the arms manufacturers and drug companies who successfully lobby and sway lily-livered administrators and distort truths to their own ends. War is good for business and opioid addicts are a goldmine. Leaders lie and people die — it’s an endless circle.

These truths are there for all to see. There are many others. Truths that would solve most of the problems on this planet if only we could address them together instead of remaining forever divided by bullies in whose interests it is to keep us divided.

Every despot in history has known how to cultivate and manipulate fears and prejudices to divide and conquer and that is exactly what Donald Trump is doing now.

But the harsh reality is that the fears and prejudices that he harnesses existed way before he was a blot on the landscape. He simply exploited them. His timing was perfect: Washington had been a farce for two Presidential terms. It was this self-serving, smug, entrenched, cocktail-swilling political corruption and intransigence that Trump offered to put end to when he promised to drain the swamp. He’s not one of them, he’s one of us his followers thought. He’s a successful businessman and reality show star they chorussed losing their grip of reality.

It shouldn’t matter to us Kiwis here at the edge of the world but it does. America is supposed to be the leader of the free world and I for one don’t like where it’s leading. On the other hand I was told quite forcefully recently that Trump is the only thing that stands between democracy and global communism. How can you argue against such intransigent conviction? It’s our intransigent convictions that have led us to where we are.

We all know that democracy is flawed in so far as two idiots can outvote a genius, but in end we get the leaders we want, or deserve.

If you think the world is in a mess don’t blame Trump He is not the cause merely the effect. We are to blame. It’s our ‘me, me, me’ attitudes. Our refusal to treat others with kindness and compassion. Our bloody-minded prejudices. Our determination to view any attempt to share wealth and create a fairer society as socialism and the first step to communism. Our selfish myopia.

When a tiny percentage of people have the vast bulk of the world’s wealth something is very wrong. Some of the world’s most respected billionaires are openly admitting this and seeking to redress it. Most admit that capitalism is broken or at least corrupted. Does that mean that socialism is the panacea? No. The answer lies with us. We need to stop arguing and start thinking clearly. To think ‘we’ and not ‘me’. To be more humane.

Try to employ a measure of empathy for all with a fair and empathetic point of view. Suppress your prejudices. Be open-minded. Understand that we are not all created equal. Some are just smarter, stronger and more able than others in every way. Some are born into privilege and some into situations devoid of even the basics like love, kindness, warmth and enough to eat. And in a world moving at something approaching light speed it’s inevitable that some get left behind or trampled in the rush.

Often our default position — especially when some homeless person is clearly high or drunk and abusing us loudly — is to use that as an excuse to attack welfare and various other well-intended measures designed to help the disadvantaged.
We can always find an excuse to attack or dismiss well intended initiatives when they have the potential to affect our privileged lives. Shock Jocks do this all the time. But Lord knows they have a receptive audience, most of whom would take issue with everything I’ve said.

Unless we start to vote on the basis of what is good for the planet and humankind in general we are doomed for a series of Trumps. Already populist leaders are raising their ugly heads around the world, plying fear and prejudice and giving validity to racism, religious prejudice and xenophobia in general.

The Hitler syndrome is in the ascendancy and we need to nip it in the bud. Now.

I say this often but let me say it again: Imagine a world where half of every country’s defence budget was spent the very real needs of people in their own countries and abroad. Within a very few years poverty, disease and hunger would be eliminated and people would not be forced to flee their homes in search of a better life.

Of course there will always be corrupt politicians and weapons manufacturers would lobby tirelessly and quite possibly fund, supply and encourage terrorist activity to keep us nervous. But if we refused to buy their bullshit, as Dwight Eisenhower urged us to, we,  we might just get the leaders and world we deserve.

That’s what I think. Thank you for listening.