I’d planned to write about attending my 50th college reunion at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls last weekend, and I’ll probably do that on another day.
However, given what’s been going on in our country especially over the last week or so, I’m compelled to put aside that topic in favor of a much more serious one.
I ran across a quote that I’ve heard before, possibly by Edmund Burke, and while the origins of which are not set in stone, the concept, however, is.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
When we see “bad stuff,” when we see people doing and saying terrible things, we must speak up. Otherwise, we’re complicit.
When did things change in America?
When did it become common practice for people to lie? I’m not talking about the polite lies we’ve all done at one time or another: “How do I look in this dress?” We smile and say, “It’s very nice.” When we think the dress is not flattering at all.
No, I’m talking about out and out lies when the truth is easily demonstrated.
When did it become common place for public figures to use name-calling and denigrating to make a point? And there be no consequences.
When did it become all right to publicly ridicule the disadvantaged, the disabled, and minorities, or any of those who are different from ourselves?
When did America become the land of the scared and not the land of the free, the home of the brave? Terrified of the other.
We read on the Statue of Liberty, “Bring me your huddled masses yearning to be free.” When did that change?
Whenever it happened, I don’t like it.
It wasn’t okay for someone to decide they could take out two former presidents and other Democratic elected and appointed officials. It wasn’t okay when blacks were shot. It wasn’t okay when a young man was beaten to death because he happened to be gay. It wasn’t okay when a man shot up Republicans playing baseball. It wasn’t okay when last Saturday in Pittsburgh, Jews worshiping in their synagogue were gunned down. Eleven souls. Countless family members and friends impacted.
Violence is never okay for either end of the political spectrum or religious group.
Oh, I don’t deny we’ve always had discrimination, and people have done bad things over the years. But I believed we’d come a long way.
What’s been happening lately? It’s just wrong.
We are a nation of immigrants. My grandparents came through Ellis Island from Germany. What if some person in authority had told them, “You’re not welcome here. Go back to your own country.”? I might not be here today because they’d have probably been killed during one of the World Wars.
It is okay to disagree with each other about policy. That’s what our country is based on. The founding fathers disagreed about a lot, but they were able to come to consensus around the most important things. They found a way to compromise. Too bad this word has become a bad word in today’s world.
We can disagree and argue, but our speech must always be civil. We must not fall into the trap of demonizing those we disagree with. We must never demonize the “other.”
You know who the others are: They speak another language. They worship in a different way. They come from another country. They are a different sex from us. They are/aren’t college educated. They are homo/hetero sexual. They live in the country or they live in the city. They love sports. They hate sports. Hundreds of things can divide us if we let them.
Our job is not to let them. Our job is to find the things that unite: We are all someone’s daughter or son. Many are a brother or sister. Many are a parent. We all love our families and want the best for them. God is the God of us all, no matter how we worship God or don’t.
One of the first things I was told when I became an author was that I should keep my political thoughts to myself. Otherwise I ran the risk of alienating ½ of my possible readership. Over the years, I’ve struggled with this, but for the most part I’ve been quiet. But no more.
German Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemoller’s words convict me.
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 am not a Jew.
Then they came for me –
and there was no one left to speak for me.
(Free stock photo)