Stop taking over the world already

An open letter to Vladimir Putin: Don’t try to take over the world! That’s all.

Putin, the president, uh… I mean the prime minister, oh… and maybe the king of Russia looks like he might be trying to take over the world (or at least Ukraine). People have been trying this for years with mixed results.

In fact, my own relatives, 1500 years ago, left Northern Europe and took over England. They pushed out the locals, which at that very moment were celebrating their freedom from Rome, back into Scotland and Wales, where the conquerors let them live in peace. Ha! Of course my ancestors really didn’t do that. No, they took over Scotland and Wales and Ireland too. It just took a while longer.

And they kept on going. It took 1300 years, but by the end they had the largest empire the world has ever known (I say “they” very generally, since to be the king of England often meant to be dethroned). All this, even with France trying to take them over every couple hundred years or so.

And where has it got me? You would think that, having descended from conquerors, I would have more to show for it. So, there’s one reason not to take over the world. You might think you’re giving your great great great great great grandkids the perfect gift, but they may not hold onto it that long.

The main reason, though, is that people do not like being taken over. Remember Scotland and Wales? In fact, in a few months, Scotland will be voting whether they want to be their own country again. And they have been a part of Great Britain since 200 or 300 or 400 years ago, depending on who’s counting. You’d think they’d be used to it by now.

Even in our local situation, someone (by which I mean my ancestors—they just would not stop) conquered this land. And every time the former natives get unruly by enacting a new ordinance or another, someone always says, “Why don’t they just give it up? All this happened so long ago!”

For whatever reason, it doesn’t work that way. It takes a long time to recover from being conquered. More than 100 years. More than 1,000 years sometimes. About 3,500 years ago more or less, Hebrews leaving Egypt took over, with divine authority, a small section of land in the Middle East, and the locals are still recovering from that takeover, even though they were subsequently taken over by the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans and finally the British (go, distant cousins, go).

Right before World War I, European countries, tired of taking over far-away places, started thinking about their neighbors as potential places to take over. Roughly speaking, this resulted in World War I. This was such a bad event that countries tried not to take anyone else over for at least five minutes.

Somehow though, some people just have trouble learning the lesson, even if they already are the biggest country in the world. Hopefully someone out there can learn from history, not repeat it.

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