So my supervisor and I were having a casual conversation today, when I mentioned that both my brother and my friend had considered getting me a politically-themed birthday card. (My brother did, actually, get me a card with a photo of Obama with the Justin Bieber hairdo.) She mentioned to me that I’m probably the most outspoken person she knows about political beliefs, which was at once surprising and not. I do often talk about my views on the issues, but for some reason, hearing someone say that I’m very open about what I believe made me feel a little vulnerable and insecure for a second.
It is often heard that you don’t discuss religion or politics, for there is never an end and the arguments are nothing if not circular. Perhaps that’s true, but I continue to do so nonetheless.
I started to think about what might be the reason that I find it important to express myself, other than the obvious desire to be heard (and the First Amendment, no doubt).
This is how I said it to my supervisor:
I spent most of my childhood and teen years studying about the persecution of Jews and others throughout history — from the Biblical times to Ancient Rome, to the Hellenistic period, the Ottoman Empire, The Crusades, The Inquisition, Stalin’s reign, and most recently but not least significantly, The Holocaust.
What I took away from these teachings was the resilience and perseverance of the human race. I learned about the power of standing up against intolerance and hatred, and the gravity of the consequence if it goes unchecked.
I can’t tell you how many Holocaust survivors I have met over the years. Many of them have remained silent about what they endured, and who can blame them for all of the trauma and horror they witnessed. Many have also become outspoken for the plight of innocent groups of people. They told us stories in such graphic detail that I couldn’t imagine how they were still standing. Stories of their parents being gassed, their siblings being murdered, and their unimaginable escape from lock-down concentration camps.
The mantra of “Never Again” has echoed through these eras and stories, and it plays through my head on loop. Never again should we sit idly by while others are being mistreated, persecuted, or denied rights. We know what happens, and old patterns die hard.
(Side note: Check out the famous poem “First they came…“ attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller on this very theme.)
(Another Side note: this theme is portrayed very nicely throughout the X-Men movies, as mutants fight for the right to exist. The most recent movie also does a great job highlighting the “Never Again” mantra. I’m not sure where I fall between Professor X and Magneto — probably somewhere in between.)
That is why I stand up, and voice up against what I perceive to be injustice.
In the modern day political situation, I believe we’ve seen the extremes of both Capitalism and Communism, and a balance must be sought after — one where social causes and rights of citizens are just as secure as our borders and our wallets.
I may not always be right, and yes, some may call me a dreamer, but my intentions are pure, and no, I’m not the only one.