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on silence and evil

I have recently been reading about the Dutch Resistance during WWII, and am struck, as always, by the fact that some people managed to summon the courage to defy the Nazis and the apathy and/or complicity of millions of people around them. Some people—no matter the cost to themselves personally, no matter the danger—stepped up to serve those who were being assailed. Over and over again, they chose to risk their own lives for ideals that included service to others and not allowing murder and oppression to pass unmentioned.

I am stunned by how many people go utterly silent when hatred raises its head. Silence fuels mass murders. Silence—perhaps even more than the technologies of hatred and death and oppression—ensures that evil will stride harder, further, and upon more bodies and souls than ever. Silence in the face of evil is evil personified. Whatever you do, let silence not be your epitaph here.

If you cannot find your own words, borrow someone else’s. If you cannot speak, sing. If you cannot sing, hum. If you cannot hum, open your arms and hug someone who is being attacked. If you cannot open your arms, then step in between the attacker and his/her target. If you cannot step, then lean that direction. If you cannot lean, then pray that way. Actually, whatever you do: pray, too. Stay humble, stay kind-hearted even to those who are bringing the evil to pass, but do not be silent. Do not let them think you give your consent. If you do, you fail them as a fellow human being.

You can’t fix the world. Neither can I. But if we do not do every last thing in our power to bring goodness and love and neighborliness to pass among us—which right now means standing up strongly to evil? Then we most definitely can help to break the world even more. We get to pick every day what we contribute. Let silence not be our epitaph here.

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