The air holds an ominous weight that seems to grow heavier, day after day. It crackles with febrility; at every news clip, every headline, every harrowing image that races across the screen.
The air crackles with febrility… or is that, our nerves?
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
— Martin Niemöller
There are days when it seems the world is coming apart at the seams. Whole countries left buried beneath the rubble, souls shattered by such terrors and traumas to make minds crumble as readily as the cardboard buildings turned to wreckage.
The sea has become a graveyard for those who fled and failed. And for too many of those who survive the journey out of hell, their unspeakable suffering is turned to silence, their voices muted — dubbed over by demagogues on the hunt for easy answers to ease our rising anxieties, and for easy enemies to explain our righteous woes.
These waves of unwelcome history keep crashing back up against the shores, and the waters are glacial at my toes. It shoots a serpentine shiver down my spine.
It takes a special kind of courage and calm to swim through turbulent waters without tensing up. We don’t know how to react. How to respond. Who to blame.
When our fears are furious, they will ask for a cold blood that will chill our hearts into hardness.
He against she. Us against Them. And we will surrender our common humanity to the siren songs of a Savior, who will feed on our fearful hearts to rally the mob to the never-ending list of imagined enemies within.
But have you ever stopped to look the Other in the eye, and ask them what they dream of in their lost and lonely hours? Have you asked where they come from, or wondered what hurt and horrors keep them lying awake at night in cold sweats and tears?
And if, instead of shriveling up into brittle mounds of kindling nerves, we opened our chests and broadened our shoulders to embrace all the weak and wounded in search of a home?
What if we replaced our preconceptions with curiosity, our callousness with compassion, and humbled ourselves enough to lend our ears to the fears of our neighbors and brethren of all creeds and colors, and to the besieged masses of humanity who are crying out for life and love?
What would happen if we simply talked to each other, and actually stopped to listen?
What world, then, would the sun rise over at tomorrow’s dawn?