Thankfully, most of us have never experienced situations where we were in imminent danger. During my life in Chicago, I had several violent encounters but I am grateful to have sustained only minor injuries.
Much of my most recent reading includes much more serious types of suppression and attacks. Whether it was in Nazi Germany, Poland, or anywhere where terrorism took place in World War II, millions of people found themselves fearing every minute for their safety and the certainty of their next days on earth. Surprisingly, my studies have shown far less literature on the act of resistance than the horrors that took place.
It occurs to me that acts of resistance, whether during World War II or present day, constitute the most serious form of courage. A group of brave, determined Polish Jews refused to surrender to the end of life in Treblinka or Majdanek. Instead, they staged a carefully orchestrated and thoroughly organized resistance. Most of the resisters were killed but their actions will always inspire me, particularly as I continue to write about their uprising.
In the twenty-first century, we are not without the need to resist those actions that are dangerous or politically unacceptable. We all have opportunities to make our statements, that we will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual preference, or gender. Failure to do so, it appears to me, is the same as assisting the Nazis in Europe in their “Final Solution,” the destruction of Jews and others during the war.
No form of resistance is small or insignificant. While most acts of resistance will never be publicized or lauded, each of us will eventually have the opportunity and necessity to resist something that is inherently wrong. Failure to do so is as bad as the injustice being committed.
In no way am I suggesting putting ourselves in situations where we can be hurt. The situations to which I refer are those that consist of taking actions rather than fighting or demonstrating. If we see elders who are being compromised, we must intercede. If we see child abuse in our schools, we must take immediate action. These are instances of resistance – the sizes of which are much less important than the changes that they necessitate. Shalom.