In Joachim Fest’s biography, Speer, the biographer in the final chapter concludes about his subject: “Speer admitted that he would also have placed himself at the disposal of a ruler of a completely different ideological orientation, if he had offered him similar opportunities.” (343)
If that state of mind of a man like Speer is not absurd consider what comes next: “…when asked whether he would have behaved differently after all he had since learned about Hitler and the system created by him, [Speer] replied, after an astonished pause, ‘I don’t think so.'” (348)
Don’t learn from mistakes; don’t learn from experience; have no intelligence; forget free will; I did nothing wrong; I have no personal responsibility; everyone else was doing what I was doing. Speer is a guy who was born to be abused because life could teach him nothing. He would participate with the same group of thugs and criminals in the 1930s and 1940s, groups which have plagued human society since history began recording events.
But Speer was supposed to be different; he was more intelligent. He figured he had spent 20 years in prison for the 12 years he participated in the Third Reich and afterward he expected to be relieved. According to his biographer, Speer did not understand why he wasn’t relieved after prison; he didn’t know why he felt more comfortable in prison-like settings. That answer is he never left prison. Speer never made the connection that his participation in the Third Reich was not destiny – it was not his fate. He had talent – architect and intelligence. Those abilities did not direct him to the Nazis. A point made in the biography was Speer took the Nazi road because it was easy. He did not have to think, consider or judge: JUST DO.
Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Albert Speer lived an unexamined life. The first obligation any human being has is to understand he is a human being. He is not defined by being part of a social, political or religious group. What sort of human being was Speer? Pathetic, living and struggling through existence and never realizing who he was or how he should act to achieve happiness. He, not others, should make decisions about his life; he should make no choices; others directed him toward opportunities. Human beings should understand that taking the easy way may be more perilous than taking the hard way. The biography described what Speer did to survive, but not why he was incapable of being his own man.
Taking “the road less traveled” [from Robert Frost] is more difficult but frequently more fulfilling, provided one has made the choice and realizes the hazards, avoiding them, before the pot of goodies.
Since learning of Socrates’ axiom, I’ve stride to live an examined life, and it is often troubling. I remember a lot – never feelings, but people, places, dates, times, who said what when. I know that my current state of existence is derived from choices and deliberate actions based upon experience and learning. Nothing comes from destiny. I am not Mozart. My production comes from effort – intelligence, judgment, memory, understanding, intuition, experience, learning and what wisdom is there. I have eight books – six novels, a history and one of essays and stories on the iBookstore. I can post more if prudence warrants that.
But the fact that I am a writer is not destiny or fate. Except for mediocre law school grades, I would have been happy being an antitrust attorney where I was talented, motivated and driven. My initial medium in which to be original was music except I injured a hand early on.
I’ve asked myself why I made certain choices. I’ve come to the realization that I always make similar choices. My choices may be a mistake, or they my be natural. I remember, though, as a teenager I had the conception that I did not want to work for anyone; I didn’t want to exploit anyone. I wanted to take stuff from me and present it to the world. Good or bad that thought has been a significant influence in all my decisions when making choices. I have learned that some choices will force me into activities and actions that will reduce me to unhappiness. I don’t need that. I avoid those situations and activities that will disturb and disrupt my ability to fulfill my ease and comfort.
As for Albert Speer, living through his years and being compelled to act, looking back and he doesn’t think that he would have behaved or acted differently – Speer is properly destined for the hellish oblivion he lived in his entire life.
As for myself making choices and going off road, I hope to make myself rich and famous. I can stop walking and buy a vehicle – a Honda Civic, a Ford Focus or anything to make my journey on the road less traveled easy.