Last week I finished The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich, by William Shirer. It wasn't my meaning to read such an historical book right before an election, but that's how things work out sometimes. I think it's impossible to read this book and not be profoundly affected. I was.
I learned some things from the book. For one, I did not know that Adolf Hitler never commanded a majority of votes when he ran for public office. The people, for the most part, rejected him and his philosophy, but Hitler manipulated politicians and other leaders until he alone ruled the country. He built up a broken people. Also, the people gave him power to fix their problems, or what they considered to be their problems, and with that power, he became one of the most evil men who ever lived.
I also found out there were people--good people--who were opposed to him, but were too scared to act. Granted, those who did act against him were killed along with many of their families, but the cost of other's inaction was disastrous. And had small, from what at the time must have seemed like insignificant things happened, Hitler would not have succeeded as long as he did.
But the book mostly made me think the role of government in our lives. People can point out monsters in history who killed millions, but those people ran governments, and the governments obeyed. If good people do not stand up against what they believe is wrong, they will pay the consequences. And if people bestow their own responsibility of helping others to the government, they too will pay the consequences.
*Picture used without permission from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rise_and_Fall_of_the_Third_Reich