Cindie Chavez – ©2018
Less than a week ago a group of human beings planned to spend time celebrating a baby naming ceremony in their place of worship and were brutally murdered instead – because they were Jews.
It’s been six days since the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA was the target of a devastating act of anti-Semitic terrorism and I’m still finding it hard to speak about this atrocity, but I know that I must.
I keep remembering this powerful essay written nearly two years ago by Naomi Shulman. She writes,
“Nice people made the best Nazis.
Or so I have been told. My mother was born in Munich in 1934, and spent her childhood in Nazi Germany surrounded by nice people who refused to make waves. When things got ugly, the people my mother lived alongside chose not to focus on “politics,” instead busying themselves with happier things. They were lovely, kind people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.”
Shulman’s story exemplifies the words of Albert Einstein, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
I recognize that many people don’t want to “talk about politics” and would rather “busy themselves with happier things”. I get it, these days political discussions often devolve into ugly arguments full of insults and vitriol. It’s uncomfortable and stressful.
And as much as I’d like to avoid stress, too, I think of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “You think that your silence on certain topics, perhaps in the face of injustice, or unkindness, or mean-spiritedness, causes others to reserve judgement of you. Far otherwise; your silence utters very loud: you have no oracle to speak, no wisdom to offer, and your fellow people have learned that you cannot help them. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? We would be well to do likewise.”
I have many friends that strongly believe that focusing on happier things will produce higher vibrations that in turn will create a better world. In theory, I agree with this concept. It is a truth that what we focus on expands – and it is also true that what we ignore expands as well – like cancer, or weeds in the garden.
And it is exactly for this reason that we cannot ignore injustice, racism, anti-Semitism – because these are things that grow and expand when we do not address them.
As holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Instead of turning away and ignoring what makes us feel uncomfortable we can expand the likelihood of creating a better world by putting the focus on justice, equality, fairness, compassion, and kindness – what we Jewish people refer to as “Tikkun Olam” or, “repair of the world.”
It feels a bit unreal to say this, but we are now at the “then they came for the Jews” part of Martin Niemoller’s famous poem.
And, although I still feel a bit speechless, I will never be silent because the “again” in “Make America Great Again” is the same “again” that we Jewish people and our allies use when we say “NEVER AGAIN” about the Holocaust.
As a child and young adult, I used to wonder how I would have behaved had I lived during Nazi Germany or the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps you’ve wondered that same thing, and if you have – this is it.
If you are able to look the other way and “busy yourself with happier things”, this is most likely because you are sitting in a place of privilege and whether you realize it or not this privilege you are so fortunate to enjoy puts you in the place of having power to do good for marginalized, oppressed, and persecuted peoples just by virtue of the stand you are willing to take publicly.
I recognize it isn’t always easy to speak up, to take a stand, but you can be assured that your voice, every voice, makes a difference to those who are oppressed.
For those concerned about “vibrations”, I’m not opposed to doing whatever it takes to create “high vibrations.” And, it is essential to remember that the highest vibration is love, and love is not passive, love is active.
We are living in exceedingly stressful times, and good self-care requires that we allow ourselves a break from the news, from social media, from talking about the horrors that we are watching play out in real-time on a regular basis. But the main reason to do this is because we can’t pour from an empty cup. We need to conserve our energy so that we have the strength, fortitude, and courage it takes to love.
I’m reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “…love is the prerogative of the brave.”
And love is not silent in the face of injustice.
More by Cindie:
Cindie Chavez is known as “The Love & Magic Coach”. She is the creator of MOONLIGHT™ – A Course in Manifesting Love and she has some great free stuff for you at her website: www.cindiechavez.com
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