I’m not a crier, but so far I’m three-for-three in terms of places visited and number of emotional breakdowns this morning.
But here’s my disjointed attempt to articulate a fraction of my reaction, here in this buckle-on-the-Bible-belt, reddest-of-red areas in a red state, after yesterday’s election.
I’m not going into the whys and wherefores. News and social media will continue to do all that. I just want to offer this sentence from the late Robert McAfee Brown, Presbyterian minister, activist and author:
“A moral society will be a society of participants rather than spectators,” he says in his book on the famous Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel: Messenger to All Humanity:
There are many troubling parallels between the German election of Hitler and our own recent contribution to history. One of Hitler’s great appeals was that he gave a troubled and divided Germany a simple reason for their discomfort: the Jews. And a single solution: get rid of them. People then and now seem to prefer simple solutions. And self-proclaimed saviors to rally around.
A point made months ago by a national elected official reluctant to support Trump but doing so anyway was that any threat from the man at the top would be minimal because he could be controlled by his advisors.
They said the exact same thing about Hitler.
Chilling that today is the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “Night of Broken Glass,” the night when the hitherto-quieter actions against the Jews in Nazi Germany became public, with Jewish synagogues, businesses and homes smashed and burned and thousands of Jews arrested and thrown into concentration camps.
While the vast majority of German civilians stood by and watched and did nothing.
So this is what I want to say. Let’s not be bystanders. If we see injustice or prejudice in the coming months, let us speak up. If we’re troubled by whatever occurs, let us speak out. Whatever it is, let’s do our part to create a moral society. Let’s be participants, not bystanders.
In the middle of the nightmare that was last night’s electoral college counting, I finally was able to fall asleep by reciting the first lines from one of those songs we learned long ago in grade school: “God Bless America, Land that I love, Stand beside her, and guide her, Through the night with the light from above.”
It feels like we’re in that night. It feels like we need that light. But we can’t just sit passively and assume some higher power –or somebody else –will provide it. We need to light a few candles ourselves.