“Do not think that because you are of the [K]ing’s house you alone of all the [people] will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the [oppressed and downtrodden] will arise from another place.” (Esther 4:13–14, NIV 1984).
My Musings – While the above verse speaks of a specific event, I think it still speaks to us today. It is still a fallen world. Fallen because we abdicated it to the evil one. He remains intent on destroying God’s creation, especially His chosen ones. So until the Lord returns, there will always be oppression and injustice. Those who are oppressed and downtrodden are not always given relief or provided deliverance from their afflictions in the here and now. For the relief and deliverance that God provides transcends our mortality. For “if only for this life we have hope [relief and deliverance] in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:18–19, NIV 1984). But this does not absolve us from the responsibility of speaking out against injustice when we see it. Doing what we can to ease the burden of our “neighbor” when it is in our power to do so. And trying, even if it is not.
I just finished reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor (Auschwitz and Buchenwald). He lost his mother, father and sister, before being liberated. The book was his memoir of his journey from the ghetto, to the camps, to liberation. Here is a compilation of some of his quotes on the subject that I “strung” together. His experiences clearly legitimize his views.
“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere. There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. We must always take sides. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. [These] are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win. Indifference is the sign of sickness, a sickness of the soul more contagious than any other. I am not so naïve as to believe that [my words] will change the course of history or shake the conscience of the world. [Words] no longer have the power they once did. [Nevertheless], I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. [So too you] must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children, between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves. Or not. [But] violence is not the answer. Terrorism is the most dangerous of answers.”
It is true that in our day and time words “do not have the power they once did” to right the wrongs. As a result, we all too often resort to violence and terrorism to fight injustice. The “ugliness of hate” to combat hate. If words are ineffective and violence foments more hate, what are we to do? Well, silence and indifference are not the answer. Perhaps instead of marching fiercely against the oppressors, we stand fearlessly in solidarity with the oppressed.
My Advice – 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—I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. (Martin Niemöller).
Someday they will come for the Christians (again). In the meantime, and even after they do, we dare not be silent. We must speak out against injustice, hate and indifference (and yes, even sin) until we have no breath left.