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And what will happen to me if I don’t act?

Director’s Reflection

Dear Companions on the Journey,

I’ve reflected on this famous quotation from Pastor Martin Niemöller before:

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. 

There are lots of ways of coming at this powerful reflection on the consequences of not addressing evil in its roots, at its beginning.  But the foundation of this powerful reflection is, What will happen to me? if I don’t act.

The Massachusetts Council of Churches, in the wake of numerous recent antisemitic incidents, began their statement (to which many of us put our names) with Jewish welfare, not ours:

“As Christian faith leaders, we reach out to share our sense of horror and disgust at the terrifying rise in violence against Jews and increasing public expressions of antisemitism.  Our hearts, prayers, and tears join yours as we bear witness to tragic events in Monsey, New York, here in Massachusetts, and elsewhere. As Christians whose tradition has been and continues to be the source of so much antisemitic terror in history, we carry a particular responsibility to identify, condemn, and resist antisemitism in any and every form.
“When we encounter it in our own sacred texts and liturgy, it’s on us to call it out. When we teach Christian history, it’s on us to name our forebears’ complicity and to call them out.  When we see it in the media or in everyday interactions with our peers, it’s on us to speak up, push back and demand awareness of the harm that even unintended or casual slights may cause.  And when we see antisemitism borne out in acts of aggression on the streets or subways or in vicious and deadly violence in Jewish homes or synagogues, it’s on us to go public, to cry out in the strongest possible terms that such actions are anathema to our most deeply held values of respect for human dignity and love our neighbors…and that they are anathema to the God we worship.”

What do you think?

Michael McGarry, C.S.P.