Our little town of Kingwood, Texas has hosted the “March of Remembrance” for several years. Established to keep alive the events and memories of the Jewish Holocaust, it brings together survivors, families of survivors, and the public in an effort to educate against bigotry (and worse) and its disastrous consequences.
For me the march is deeply moving and spiritual. It’s impossible to be untouched by the stark and painful stories laid out before us. I wonder what I would have done if I had been present and aware of the atrocities of that time. Would I have spoken out?
St. Maximilian Kolbe was starved to death at Auschwitz when he volunteered to take the place of a condemned man who had a wife and children. Would I have been so courageous? http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1107
The last time I attended the march I noticed a sign along the way.
“Victim. Perpetrator. Bystander. Defender.”
Those words burrowed deeply into me. I couldn’t really concentrate because I kept thinking, “What am I? What would I have done?” I’d like to think I would have been a defender. I mean, I really hope I would have had the courage to speak up and defend the innocent. Of course I’ll never know what I would have done back then, but as I stared at the sign I realized something that really pleased me.
I am a defender. I do speak up. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it scares the heck out of me. The time I spend volunteering for an organization that defends the defenseless is possibly the most important work I do each week. For me, there are other disturbing and grave events happening right now ~ close to home and around the world. We have laws and practices that profoundly go against my beliefs and may jeopardize our health, safety, wellness and freedom. Christians and others are being persecuted around the world…perhaps here as well. I struggle with what to do about it all. Do you also think about these things?
I’m still working out my responsibilities in all of this. Prayer is my “go-to,” thank God! Will you pray with me?
Dear Lord, please make us aware of the injustices around us,
and we beg of You the grace and courage
to defend our sisters and brothers.
Just show us how. Amen.
Photos taken by me in Normandy, France at the American WW II Cemetery.