Thursday, August 8, 2019

Indifference Helps the Oppressor, Never the Oppressed

A sign at a march on the Connecticut state capitol, March 24, 2018.


Indifference manifests itself in ignorance, silence and blind acceptance. Turning our backs to the injustices suffered by the marginalized, vulnerable, and victimized in our local communities and around the world is a weak and heartless admission that the status quo is just fine with us when it doesn't affect our lives directly -- at least not yet. And that's a very big "yet" because unchecked turmoil can arrive anytime at our doorsteps regardless of who we think we are.

"It is not enough to limit your love to your own nation, to your own group. You must respond with love even to those outside of it. ...This concept enables people to live together not as nations, but as the human race." These words of Clarence Jordan, scholar, author, activist, and founder of Koinonia Farm, are his charge to all of us to follow a path of love, acceptance, and respect.

Let's face reality. The other, the stranger, the not-of-my-kind are real people, not abstractions. Each has a story -- a personal story of a real life, filled the with the kinds of hopes and dreams most of us share in wanting to be accepted, and allowed to live in peace and pursue a purposeful life.


A wall plaque at Habitat for Humanity's Atlanta, GA headquarters quoting Clarence Jordan


The challenge is to move us from uncaring indifference, or gratuitous caring with no commitment, to making a genuinely positive difference, large or small, however we are able. We must move from ignoring today's reality to facing it head-on. We must take a stand, and turn ignorance into awareness and action.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel fought relentlessly against the force of indifference. It's dangerous. It's deadly. In his December 10, 1986, Nobel Prize acceptance speech Wiesel said,

"We must always 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 or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe." 

Let's face reality. Let's take a stand. Let's make a difference. Today and always.


Don Shaw, Jr.


* This post is adapted from one of my previous posts. 

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