Rev. Dr. Chuck Moffett
Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) was a prominent German theologian and pastor who was outspoken in his opposition to Hitler and the Nazi regime. He spent the last seven years of the Nazi rule in concentration camps. Niemoller is well remembered for the following quotation about the torture inflicted by the Nazis:
“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.”
How easy it is to minimize, or even ignore, the plight, pain, or persecution of others as long as it does not rain on “my parade.” How often we condone outrageous actions toward others as long as the actions are “not in my backyard.” How quickly we are willing to abandon, reject, or even outlaw others from our community or country simply because they are different from us. This “we/they” attitude is a major factor contributing to the disease and distrust and destruction dividing our world by violence and war.
This way of believing and living is absolutely contrary to the God who created each one of us, and calls us to regard everyone as a child of God. Just imagine what it would do if any of our residents or employees were to treat someone else with anything less than respect and compassion simply because the other person did not live on our floor, or was a “community” resident instead of a “permanent” resident.
Too much of our political and social rhetoric these days encourages us to treat others with disdain, simply because, in the words of Niemoller, “I am not one of them.”