The financial mind-war.
Zealots clad in heavy uniforms of iron and steel, the Teutonic Knights were warriors who fought in the name of God.
Founded in the year 1190 A.D., the Orden der Brüder vom Deutschen Haus St. Mariens in Jerusalem—the Order’s full name—was made up of knights who initially offered themselves as soldiers and servants to Europe’s Catholic kings. Their mission was the violent execution of the word of their Lord; their reward was hefty payments of silver and gold.
But while they were skilled in enacting the will of their God via the heavy fall of a spiked mace, or with the sharpened edge of a blade, the Teutonic Order eventually became masters of an altogether more effective weapon: governance.
With the assistance and blessing of the Holy Roman Emperor himself, in the year 1230 the Teutonic Knights acquired a piece of European soil to call their own. After conquering the region of Ziemia Chełmińska in Poland, they lay claim to it, renaming it the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights.
The Order’s success had finally given them land. But over the years, their expansion continued.
By the fifteenth century, the Order would rule an area that stretched almost 1,400km across the length of the Baltic Sea. Its kingdom swept from the north east of Germany, all the way to the westernmost border of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. But like all who acquired land by bloodshed in Europe at the time, there was always the risk someone else would be willing to return the favour.
In the summer of 1414, a simple border dispute between the Teutonic Knights and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania would eventually devolve into open war.
Beset on all sides by the superior forces of Poland and Lithuania, the Teutonic Knights retreated into their strongholds to await siege. The Order’s Grand Master—Michael Küchmeister von Sternberg—desired to deprive the invading armies of food and animal feed, and so ordered the mass burning of local croplands and grain stores, as his knights made their way to the safety of their castles.
These same scorched earth tactics were echoed by the invaders, who immolated anything that hadn’t already been ravaged by the torches of the Order.
In the end, however, neither side would see victory. A stalemate lasting two years would end in a truce, where neither belligerent would gain any more ground than they controlled before.
The war was over. But its consequences lingered.
Due to the destruction of food and crops sanctioned by Küchmeister, widespread famine and pestilence beset the region. And without adequate food, the citizens of the Teutonic Order’s kingdom revolted, seeking a target responsible for their misfortune.
Küchmeister, of course, wasn’t willing to take the fall. Instead, he ordered heralds of the realm to spread false news that it was the invaders who were first to destroy the crops, and that he only acted out of retaliation.
The deception worked. Küchmeister’s people were pacified, their anger redirected at the kingdom’s foreign enemies, and his knightly order would go on to rule until well into the sixteenth century.
The names of the nations the Teutonic Knights once governed have mostly changed over the centuries. We know them today as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, northernmost Poland, and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. But one thing which hasn’t morphed with the passing of time, is the desire of our nation’s leaders to blame others for their handiwork.
In the United States, Joe Biden is blaming “Putin’s Price Hike” on the fact that petrol prices are at the highest they’ve ever been globally. And while there is a small amount of truth to this story, unfortunately it does nothing to illustrate the full picture, or take into account some of the more localised reasons for rising gas prices in the US.
European leaders also want to throw shade on Putin, saying we should be pointing fingers at him for an impending global food crisis. What they won’t tell you, however, is that many of the same heads of state are responsible for Europe’s dependency on cheap Russian and Ukrainian grain, and that they’ve also helped write laws that set aside up to 58% of some of Europe’s own potential food crops to be used in the production of biofuels, instead of food.
In Australia, the recently ousted Liberal government that has been the nation’s steward for more than a decade, is already blaming the newly installed Labor leadership for the nation’s insane housing crisis— where the cost of an average home has risen by 25% over the past year, and where its largest city Sydney is now the second least affordable place on Earth to buy real estate. All this despite the fact that Labor has only been in power for a little over a month.
In Canada, Trudeau has become a master of blaming his own people for rising up against him, when some of them predictably disagree with the draconian legislations his government has recently implemented. And when Canadians express their umbrage, his response is to threaten legal action, or to remove their fundamental human rights to access their own money.
And finally, almost without exception, governments around the world are blaming a health crisis from two years past for the rampant inflation we’re all experiencing today. When in almost every case, it was they who allowed the printing of trillions in extra money, that led to this problem in the first place.
Before I go any further, let me ask you this: have any of the examples I’ve just given triggered you, or found you wanting to come to the defence of any of the leaders mentioned?
If so, I want you to leave aside any political or national affiliations that may have caused this reaction in you. Because the plain truth is, I’m not taking sides. I’m not a fan of Biden, Trudeau, or Australia’s former conservative government, any more than I am of those on the other side of the aisle.
Instead, I’m trying to make the point that no matter what crisis arises, and no matter the financial or economic stress you’re currently under, your leaders will never take any of the heat for it. When life becomes unaffordable, unreasonable, or unliveable, they’ll blame foreign powers, past events, and potentially even you.
It doesn’t matter who takes the fall. As long as it’s not them.
To many, it’s a terrifying thought that our leaders are almost without exception either incompetent, asleep at the wheel, apathetic towards our needs, or at worst, blatantly corrupt. But to me, accepting these truths isn’t something to fear.
Instead, I see it as an open door.
It’s an opportunity to realise that when it really comes down to it, you’re on your own. That no matter who is to blame for the greater financial circumstances that are affecting your life, your leaders are never going to admit fault. Most likely, they’ll deflect to whatever scapegoat is convenient at the time, in an attempt to direct your anger elsewhere.
I’m here to tell you that regardless of who is to blame for the financial circumstances of the world right now, it shouldn’t really matter. All that does, is the actions you personally take to improve or enrich your own financial life.
Yes, someone is to blame for all of this. But whoever that may be, they’ll never be honest about it. So instead of expending your valuable time or mental energy thinking about it, you could be getting your financial house in order, taking actions to cut your debt, increasing your income, or levelling up your skills so that you can be more valuable to your clients and customers.
Most people could do those things. But most people don’t.
Instead, most people are living in a political news cycle that is constantly pointing the finger, laying blame, and misdirecting people from what truly matters. From taking care of themselves.
At the very least, you should of course be aware of the financial state of the world. But stop worrying about who made it happen. Because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.
Instead, focus on the financial state you want to bring about in your own life.
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