This week has been a great reminder of Leviticus 19:16...
"Do not stand idly by when your neighbor's life is threatened..."
We are in the middle of a tolerance unit with our students; they are studying literature from the Holocaust, as well as other pieces of literature about other forms of persecution happening all over the world, while they are also doing a history project on the Holocaust as well. The students are completely bought into the unit, and it is a beautiful thing.
Yesterday at school, almost all of the student organizations on campus worked together on a "die in" activity to promote awareness about hate crimes taking place all over the world, as well as the roots of hate, which lie in prejudiced words and actions.
Then today we went to the Museum of Tolerance. That place always gets me, even though we go every year. This year though, was quite special. We had the sweetest little lady as a tour guide. Her name was Gloria, and she was a Holocaust survivor. She even showed the students her tattoo from Auschwitz, and shared a lot about her experience. I have stood before at the part of the museum with the Auschwitz replica, but walking through the hallway to the gas chamber replica had much more significance somehow when walking through next to someone who narrowly escaped this fate herself. Then, we listened to a survivor, Eva Brettler, share her story of survival.
This weekend, some of my students will walk in the Walk to End Genocide. I sponsored one student who needed help registering, and she has already raised some more money. My students inspire me. If they inspire you too, consider donating to their team for the walk!
Most of all, they inspire me to remember the importance of not standing idly by. Let this be my pledge... I will not stand idly by.
What I am going to write here might bother some people... but you know what-
I don't care.
Regardless of how acceptable or unacceptable my views may be, I will not stand idly by while people say terrible racist remarks about immigrants, like my amazing students, whose parents only brought them here to escape the dangers of drug wars. How can we think they should all be turned away, yet react in shock at the fact that America's doors were closed to the Jews trying to escape Europe in the 1930s? I will not stand idly by while people act as if those who have different sexual preferences should be treated as lesser citizens. If we are okay with persecuting people based on something like that, simply because we disagree, then how will we feel when other people persecute us for our beliefs, simply because they disagree?
"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."
- Martin Niemoller