I wasn’t always so passive. In years past I probably would have raised my voice while protesting beside fellow marchers. Movements fueled by fearless passion for causes supporting: peace, civil rights, religious freedom, and egalitarianism (to name only a few). Perhaps it is simply that I am older now, with a bit less fire in my belly. Comfortable walking shoes have replaced my marching boots, and I’ve learned that many shades of grey color the world. Life is not as clearly apparent as before.
So, what has changed? Perhaps entering another time and another place in a life imagined through a fictional character has reawakened my impatience with allowing the world to right itself while I go about my business. In my novel, the central character is a man struggling against the silence of complacency by speaking out against injustice. Through recast eyes I have begun to see the world and my place in it somewhat differently.
My fictional character, 81-year-old Holocaust Survivor, Max Golanski perfected the art of blending into the horrific scenery of his times by not making waves. It was a skill acquired as a protective device, an armor of invisibility shielding him from detection by those bent upon his destruction. Inherent in Max’s choice to return to Poland to reconnect with his past was his choice to become visible once again.
Dropping his protective shield Max chose to speak for those who had died in full view of a world that should have come to their assistance, and instead turned a collective back. He grew to believe that remaining invisible — silent in the midst of evil — was to abandon a joint responsibility of conscience and allow inaction to become action.
Like Max of my imagination I find it increasingly difficult to remain silent when witnessing attacks by armed forces against civilians throughout the world. “Rules of Engagement,” don’t exist when governments attack their own people and sovereign countries have engaged in internal battles since the beginning of time. In Darfur, the battles continue raging with 300,000 killed and almost 3 million displaced since 2003. In Syria, the question remains as to whether a civil war is underway. While the question is answered, men women and children in Homs are being killed simply because they live in harm’s way.
It is my personal hope that a global outcry will bring an end to the hostilities against these, and all groups of civilians under siege. In civil wars, issues become even more complex as people of conscience must watch from the outside without involvement. What is the right thing to do in such an instance? The human thing. As an individual I do not profess to have the answers, but believe it essential to pose the questions.
The fight against genocide will not be won as “Crimes Against Humanity” continue. Our human family cannot afford to continue losing its humanity. Let us pray for peace among nations, and an end to violence against innocent civilians. Take action by contacting your elected officials in Congress. REMEMBER . . .
First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.
– PASTOR MARIN NEIMOLLER –