Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We Cannot Deny We Are Aware of the Atrocity

THIS PHOTO SHOWS: Schwabmunchen 2 after the Allies liberated Germany. German civilians were forced by the Third Army soldiers to dig up bodies, make coffins, and give the victims more-decent burials. The photo shows about 500 Germans attending burial services for the victims. The German pastor conducting the services said local residents were unaware of the atrocity.

In Germany during Nazi rule, if a Catholic protested in front of a death camp, perhaps with a sign that said, "Stop the Killing!" he or she would almost certainly have been killed too.

Here and now, if we protest in front of a place where abortions are performed, we only risk scorn and perhaps a feeling of futility. Some of us might get arrested. The abortions continue in spite of our prayers, works, and occasional sufferings. Thanks to the peaceful, prayerful protests, a few lives are being saved here and there, but many long years have passed since abortion was legalized, and still every year millions are being mutilated and killed in their mother's wombs.

In the face of great evil done in the name of a faulty ideal, it seems that even well-meaning individual citizens are pretty much helpless to stop it.

I suspect that there may come a time when people like me, who stand by helplessly, complaining perhaps to one another, but not doing anything more that an occasional prayerful vigil at an abortion clinic, we may be condemned for our complicity because we didn't go far enough. That thought struck me recently when I've been looking at movies that showed how American soldiers punished Germans who had lived near the death camps.

Old army films on YouTube from 1945 show how the Americans rounded up the well-dressed middle class Germans from nearby villages, brought them to the camps, and made them dig up the dead from the mass graves and rebury them. The Germans were forced by the Americans to perform these tasks amidst the putrid stacks of rotting bodies that the Nazi guards had slaughtered and left behind before the guards had run away.

The actions that the Americans took against the Germans who lived near the camps reveal that the Americans must have felt that the villagers should have done something to stop the horror, no matter what it might have cost them. I wonder if that is a realistic thing to believe, that the so-called good Germans could have made a difference?

It's impossible to believe their claims that they didn't know what was going on. The stench of the smoke coming out of the crematorium chimneys alone must have been a dead giveaway of what was going on inside.

I have been known to tactlessly predict to abortion supporters that when the world wakes up and exposes the heinous crimes of our abortion-justifying society, people who stood for the "right" to abortion will be held accountable. Now I also think that we who stand by and wring our hands might also be held to that same standard.

I remember as a child after World War II hearing members of my family wonder, "How could the Germans have stood by and done nothing?" How, indeed?

But, as I think of it, the killing in both cases is quite similar to the atrocities practiced by the Romans at the time of Christ. The Romans were no less brutal than the Nazis with their gladiator games and crucifixions. If one person in a village fought against the Roman or the Nazi occupation, the rest of the town was decimated. Decimation meant that one out of ten of the people in the town were killed in retribution.

Maybe for us it's a mix of things that's stopping us: Helplessness and fear. We have not been punished yet for disagreeing, but that day might yet be coming.

Maybe we aren't supposed to rise up and take the strong actions it might take to turn things around? The early Christians didn't fight the Romans, they concentrated on being holy themselves. But still, shouldn't we be doing everything in our power to make the killing stop? I don't know. I really don't know.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I've thought the same. I do think we need to do less handwringing and more concrete action when we can. At this point we still do have a lot of freedom and even though we may not be able to change anything in a sweeping way, we can help save one baby at a time, which will eventually have an exponential effect. That's what 40 days for life was about and I hope more of that kind of thing is done. I am not in a situation where I can go stand and pray outside our local planned parenthood every Thursday during killing hours, but I am committing to babysitting my SIL's kids so she can do that. I use pro-life checks but I need to get pamphlets to give away, be more willing to talk about the subject with those who are ignorant or ambiguous, and take the time to become more educated myself. This is a good reminder.