Note to selves

June 10th, 2008

I read a few lines. There was not a single line of stereotyped abuse that had not been drummed into me for years till I was sick and tired of it.
‘No,’ I said, ‘it doesn’t bother me. I was used to it long ago. Now and again I have expressed the opinion that every nation, and even every person, would do better, instead of rocking himself to sleep with political catchwords about war-guilt, to ask himself how far his own faults and negligences and evil tendencies are guilty of the war and all the other wrongs of the world, and there lies the only possible means of avoiding the next war. They don’t forgive me for that, for, of course, they are themselves all guiltless, the Kaiser, the generals, the trade magnates, the politicians, the papers. Not one of them has the least thing to blame himself for. Not one has any guilt. One might believe that everything was for the best, even though a few million men lie under the ground. And mind you, Hermine, even though such abusive articles cannot bother me any longer, they sadden me all the same. Two thirds of my countrymen read this kind of newspaper, read things written in this tone every morning, and every night, are every day worked up and admonished and incited, and robbed of their peace of mind and better feelings by them, and the end aim of it alll is to have the war over again, and it will be a good deal more horrible than the last. All that is perfectly clear and simple. Anyone could comprehend it and reach the same conclusion after a moment’s reflection. But nobody wants to. Nobody wants to avoid the next war, nobody wants to spare himself and his children the next holocaust if this be the cost. To reflect for one moment, to examine himself for a while and ask what share he has in the world’s confusion and wickedness – clearly nobody wants to to do that. And so there is no stopping it, and the next war is being pushed on with enthusiasm by thousands and thousands day by day.[…]’

Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

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