“The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.” Martin Luther King, Jr. STRIDE TOWARD FREEDOM
I have often wondered how demonstrations change anything. Some brave person paints a sign and stands in front of a capital building and it seems a bit futile. The older I get however, the more I recognize the actual process of how things change, they almost always start inside a person and work out to the rest of the world. I don’t actually like change even if I am campaigning for it. I mostly like the status quo. The comfort of what is, is my default setting.
When I read Martin Luther King, Jr. I am stuck by his wisdom in a time when that wisdom was dangerous. He was a man with a gift and a mission. He not only changed his generation but through his writings will continue to change many things in the future.
If I am demonstrating for a hateful cause does that also change my heart? That is a scary thought. I doubt if it changes the heart in a good way. I have to admit, I have never demonstrated for any cause loving or hateful. I have been the silent, don’t get involved person on the couch watching it on the news. I am opinionated just not publicly. I write to change my heart, I write to express my opinion and I write because it is good for my soul. In some way writing is my way of painting a sign.
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel
I am a hypocrite. I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. I have read many books both nonfiction and fiction on the holocaust. I like to believe myself to be the person who would have stood up for the Jews. But in reality, it is easy today in America to stand up for the Jews. But at the time would I have opened my arms and welcomed the Jewish immigrants into our great country? America had many chances to except the Jewish people fleeing hate and bigotry.
The Jews would have been flooding into my country. They would have placed stress on American’s economy. They would have taxed America’s welfare system for a period of time until they got settled. They may not have lined up to be American citizens immediately because, although thankful for American they might have still held on to the hope that they could return to their country someday.
All of this would have cost me, as an American tax payer and yet I think the benefits to my great country would have outweighed the cost. Many of the six million Jews who lost their lives would have been living, contributing, raising their families in this fine land and we would have been changed, as a country, and as individuals. We perhaps would not be voting with our pocketbooks but rather our hearts.
I see little difference between the Jewish immigrants of WWII and the Immigrants fleeing persecution from Venezuela. We as American citizens, need to open our border. I speak for the oppressed and I speak knowing it will cost me, as a taxpayer. There is no monetary value that is too much to save even one person from a life of persecution.
This is my painted sign, this is my protest, this is my heart.