Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stand Up for the Lookout

The hateful rhetoric and violent actions in the US these last few weeks and months disturbs me.  More than that: infuriates, disgusts, frightens me.  

I have Martin Niemoller's quotation* in mind:

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.
Except, today, with Trump spewing vile, you could substitute Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans, people with disabilities.  Include the vitriol of his followers and add LGBT folk, women, and more.
I don't talk much about it to the kids, except in the most general terms regarding San Bernardino, Planned Parenthood, even Paris.  They know there is hate and violence; we encourage them to look for the good, for the helpers, as the meme about Mr. Rogers encourages. 
It's hard to have hope.  I'd love to turn away from the news, but somehow I feel called to witness what is going on--I am so fortunate not to deal with violence or hatred directly so I don't want to ignore it just because I can.  Even if I don't think it helps much.
Last week, I saw a swastika painted on a lamppost in a local parking lot.  I was horrified.  So hateful, so close to home.  I talked to the store manager; I called the local police.  I called again.  And I went to the precinct.  And I called the management company of the shopping center.  I posted a lot of it on FB to enlist the help and support of my friends to help me get it painted over.  We had plans to paint it ourselves before the first night of Hanukkah.  I had my minister's cell phone number on speed dial in case we got arrested while vandalizing vandalism!  And in 48 hours, it was gone.  The police must have gotten through to the management company who put on a fresh coat of paint.
But town feels a little tainted for me now, just like the country does, with Trump resurrecting horrific ideas reminiscent of the Holocaust and Japanese internment.  It turns my stomach and so, in my own way, I will not be quiet.  Because, sooner rather than later, I belong to one of the groups that the extremists would wipe off the face of the earth.
How will you stand with me?

*The origins of this poem first have been traced to a speech given by Niem√∂ller on January 6, 1946, to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt. There are numerous versions.

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