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You Can Know

I have a question for you:

"If you lived in Germany during the Third Reich, would you have been one of those that stood by silent as Jews were dragged away from their homes? Would have refused to believe that Jews and many others were being killed and treated inhumanly at several large concentration camps scattered throughout your home country?"

Before I answer this question for myself, I want to take a break and share a story from my siblings and me. 

When my Dad was in the hospitable last year for a month, my mom spent all of that time with him, I was mostly in charge of my ten younger siblings. The few just under me in age were able to take care of themselves and help out with the younger ones, too, but as the oldest one I ended up dealing with most of the messy, stressful situations that arose. 

Such as making sure my younger siblings did their chores and school and not spend every moment watching movies or playing video games. The only problem was during all this time I still had to work full time. So early in the mornings I'd make lists for my siblings, and expect them to have them done by the evening. And in the evening I'd find that they hadn't done much if anything of what they were supposed to, but just went ahead and wasted their day playing. 

So, I took away most of the devices, promising to give them back if they did their school and chores. 

My siblings didn't think that was fair. After a few days, when they were doing a little better, I said I'd give their tablets and movies back if they promised to do what they needed to do before playing. 

But one brother said, "I can't promise that. Because I don't know what I'll do tomorrow."

I retorted, "You can promise. Because you can decide now to do what's right."

And he said, "No, because I don't know and I don't want to lie. And lying is wrong."

I tried to show him that it's not a lie if you decide to do what's right. Sure, we might fail, but that shouldn't keep us from deciding to do right. I used the example of following God. We give ourselves to Him and repent of our sins. Sure, we may continue to sin, but we actively choose to not sin. Mistakes should never stop us from actively pursuing betterness. 

Of course, my brother simply didn't want to promise to do his school and work, because he didn't want to put in the effort of working when he could play. It wasn't that he didn't want to lie, but that he didn't want to do anything. 

And what does this have to do with the holocaust of WWII? 

I've heard people try to make history relatable by saying, "We really can't judge those of that past, because we would have done no differently." 

And while this is true to a degree, it's also completely losing the point of why we keep a record of what's happened before. 

History isn't written so that we might empathize, but so that we might learn.

"If I were a plantation owner's daughter, statistically I would have laughed as our slaves were beaten." 
"If I were a Roman during Jesus' days, statistically, I would have loved to watch people eat by the lions."
 "If I were a German in WWII, statistically I would have been one of the Germans of who did nothing." 
"If I were ..." 

The problem with this thinking is two things: 

1. I do not live in that time. God knew when and where I needed to be, and that's where I am. 
2. Even back in those days, not everyone was a statistic. There were many who stood up in their day and would not turn a blind eye to the atrocities others accepted as the norm. 

During WWII, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one such German. He did not listen to propaganda or the conscious of the "church" around him, but was an avid follower of God and obeyed God's commandment to love his fellow man. 

You and I both can know what we would have done then by evaluating what we are doing now. 

Do you believe evil is something only of the past? Do you turn a blind eye to others' suffering? Do you think some deserve what they get because they are Mormon, Muslim, or homeless? 

Whenever we hear others speak of injustices, do we automatically stuff our consciousness under the rug and label everything has "conspiracy theories"? 

Because that's exactly what every one of the past did as they stood and watched the innocent be butchered. 

Sure, we shouldn't believe every horror story we hear. But each of us should be more in tune to the voice of God by learning just what He wants of us through His words and opening our hearts to every man, regardless of how different they are from us, religiously, politically, socially. 

(By the way, I'm not saying to turn a blind eye to sin. But if we truly love justice, we will not allow our eyes to blinded at all.)

Sometimes it's easier to look at history and think we're being honest by saying, "I would have been no better." 

After all, Romans 3:23 says Romans "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

But I believe that's not true honesty; to refuse to grow when we can grow. I believe we can honestly say, "I choose to be better." 

Do not let statistics define your actions, or allow yourself to sin more.

Matthew 5:48: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Acts 3:19: "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."

Romans 2:5: "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed."

Matthew 3:8: "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."

Now it's your turn to answer this question: 
Would you be one of the silent in a time of persecution? Are you silent now? What are you doing to make yourself available to God and others? 

P.S. This post was written over a year ago and was in my drafts folder along with twenty other posts still waiting for you all. I decided to finally let it see the light of day, and how ironic that I'd now be in Germany ... and that a new blog post would be stewing in my head, about how it's time we give Germany a break about their past. 


  1. Haha...the irony that you're in Germany now...that's pretty funny!

    And a nice, old thought-provoking post...


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