Get Up, Stand Up

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
That quote is from Elie Wiesel, an amazing man who was a survivor of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, went on to become a college professor, a Nobel Laureate, and a champion for the oppressed around the world.
What would you do in the following scenario?  You bring your child or grandchild to a playground.  You’re the only ones there.  Along come a couple people who start spray painting swastikas or racial epithets on the school walls.  What do you do?  Most likely, you take your kid back to the car and call 911, right?  Maybe you even confront the people yourself.  Maybe you march right over there and start throwing punches.  You do something though, right? You don’t ignore it.  You don’t look the other way.  You’re not Jewish or black or any other minority.  You just know right from wrong and you’re justifiably angered and repulsed by what’s happening.   You take some sort of action.
Thankfully, most of us will never find ourselves in such a scenario, right?  But these types of incidents have been happening with increased regularity.  What can we do about it?  I mean you and me.  Regular people who are not in politics and who don’t have much power to effect change by ourselves.  Do we do nothing?  Say nothing?  Stick our heads in the sand and pretend that nothing is happening?  Or say, well, this doesn’t effect me or this has nothing to do with me.  It’s not my problem.
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Nothing bothers me more in our current political culture than seeing otherwise good people who just won’t get involved on some basic level.  I’m talking about basic issues and not only knowing right from wrong, but taking a stand in anyway you can.  No, it’s not okay to propose we increase our defense budget by $54 billion while at the same time cutting funding for programs that literally feed people who can’t feed themselves.  No, it’s not okay to deface religious cemeteries or spray paint swastikas.  I’m taking about basic, human needs based, right from wrong.
It’s not okay to sit on the sidelines.  If you can’t draw your own personal line in the sand and stick up for other people, in whatever way you’re comfortable, then what good are you as a human being?  There are plenty of ways to stand up.  Call your congressman. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper.  Run for school board.  Go to a protest or a town hall meeting.  Write a blog that three people read.  For god’s sake, talk to your kids about politics and right from wrong, in an age appropriate way.  Don’t let your kids think that if something doesn’t directly impact them, that it’s okay to ignore it.  Don’t let your kids grow up ignorant to the larger world.
I may not change too many minds.  I may not make much of a difference by myself.  It doesn’t matter.  You draw a line in the sand and  you do the best you can to stand up for what’s right.  You do the best you can to make a little bit of a difference.  You do it for your children and their children.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
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One thought on “Get Up, Stand Up

  1. Well said and I agree with you. Check out Stronger Together WNY. It’s an action group that helps facilitate the kind of action we need during these difficult times. The members are engaged in ACTION. We must not just complain about a particular injustice happening but come up with an action that we can take, collectively. Write letters, postcards, make phone calls to our representatives, donate money to buy billboards to have our VOICES heard. No one can be complacent when others are being treated unjustly.

    Martin Niemoller was an outspoken pastor during WWll. He spent years in a concentration camp during the war for speaking out against Hitler. He’s best remembered for this quote:

    First 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 for me.

    Like

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