"We must make up our minds. Neutrality favors the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the persecutor, never the persecuted." - Elie Wiesel.
I have just finished a powerful book called "Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide" by Barbara Coloroso. I picked up the book for two reasons: 1) I have always had a deep interest in reading materials on the second world war. I once had the opportunity in high school to conduct several interviews with a survivor of a Concentration Camp, and her words deeply moved and affected me on this subject. 2) The author is mostly known for her studies and publications about parenting. I attended a workshop she gave last month, and was impressed by her ideas.
Upon finishing the book, however, I have learned a far greater lesson, and come across far deeper ideas, than I thought I would.
The premise of the book is that the roots of genocide can be found in bullying. Both stem not from conflict, but from contempt for another human being. Coloroso delves into how these terrible acts occurred, and how even after the world vow of "Never Again" post-World War II, that they continue to occur in countries throughout the world.
The crux of her book is what she calls the "Bullying Circle", which outlines the eight different roles that people take in a bullying situation. These roles are filled in every instance of bullying, be it in a school yard or political circumstance.
And so, as I read how these roles were fulfilled in history, it made me look inside myself and wonder, which role would I take? I believe I can say with surety that I am not the bully, the henchman, the active supporter or even the passive supporter. I pray I would not be the target.
That leaves three roles: 1) a disengaged onlooker, who observes and then turns away saying "it's none of my business" 2) a potential witness, who opposes the bullying, knows they ought to help, but does not act (for a variety of reasons) 3) a resister, defender and witness, who actively resists, stands up to the bully and speaks out against the bullying.
Do I have the courage to be what I want to be, the resister, defender and witness? Will I stand for truth and right, no matter the cost? Or do I weigh the personal outcome and base my involvement on that? Would I be able to convince myself that as long as I am not participating that I am doing no harm?
What do I need to do now? What can I do now?
I feel the desire and necessity to break from the comfort of my life. I feel there are a few leaders in the world that are sitting me in front of a media stage and surrounding me in a consumer-driven culture and telling me that "me and mine" are my primary concerns. Just keep watching the television, and buying more things, and hold to that which I have earned. I feel distracted from what is really going on out there!
I feel at a loss for information. How can I know what is really going on? What can I do if I find out? I want to open my eyes to see. I want to listen and not just hear. I want to act with purpose. I want to show my belief in the idea that humanity is everyone's responsibility. My responsibility.
Doing nothing is not harmless. I need to break out of my comfort zone. I need to "do".
"The road to Auschwitz was built by hatred, but paved with indifference." - Ian Kershaw
"Far more, and far more hideous, crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion." - C. P. Snow
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke