“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” Elie Wiesel
Leaving a gut wrenching exhibit on the treatment of Jews during World War II, I saw this sign.
The notion that what happened to the Jews of Ozeran, Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe can happen anywhere seems implausible.
Yet in our own country, we are now witnessing some of the the prescursors to those events in the denigration of minorities, lack of civil discourse, and assault on truth.
Undoubtedly, there are too many Americans of good will alive today to permit a slide into dictatorship any time soon; but perhaps in an era of great economic or climate upheaval, who knows what the future may hold? from the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education.
My companion that day was a young Jewish man who was blissfully unaware of the Holocaust. It was interesting and painful to experience his reaction to the exhibits.
I remember a Jewish man who was warning of these trends about ten years ago. I dismissed him as paranoid.
Never in this country I thought.
I hope I am right.
Yet, hope alone is not enough.
It’s not that simple.
I can’t stand by and watch evil triump in my country or my world.