Sometimes You Have to Choose

When I was in high school like most American students we studied some of the most terrifying conflicts in history.

We studied the Great Expansion moving west across the prairie, and though we didn’t spend much time talk of it, we learned of the mass murders, and horrible tactics to ‘rid the land’ of natives. I always swore I would have stood up for them. In fact when I was really young Pocahontas was my favorite Disney princess, because I loved how brave she was in protecting John Smith, and because I loved being outside and being barefoot. I loved how she wasn’t afraid to stand up to her father, and to try to solve the issue in such a way that helped both sides. I always thought that had I been on that ship with John Smith that I would have helped him to try to protect her and stand up to Governor Ratcliffe.

We studied the Civil War and all that led up to it, and I always wondered how people could treat others like that, and further how they could go to war over the right to treat people so poorly. I always thought I would have been an abolitionist, or one of the people on the Underground Railroad helping the slaves get to freedom.

We studied the civil rights era, and I couldn’t wrap my head around how people continued to treat African Americans so poorly, and how they could commit such horrible acts of violence toward “the other”. And all of this based on something so uncontrollable as one’s skin color. Rosa Parks and Dr. Martian Luther King, Jr. we’re and still are today people I consider heroes. I can’t help but believe I would have marched with King, and would have stood up for Parks, offering my seat when that man so arrogantly told her to move.

When we studied the Holocaust, my heart broke for all the people who died an unnecessary death. I remember in class saying that I would have been a rebel or a resister, one of those who hid people in my attic or my basement or my closet until they could get somewhere safer.

As we prepare for Lent I can’t help but think that if I had been in the crowd I would’ve wanted to help Jesus. I would have called for his release, I would have been one of his followers. Like Peter I would have told him “I’ll never deny you”. But the truth is I will never know what I would have done.

My whole life, I’ve always believed that I would be the person who would help others when they needed it, who would stand up against injustice, who would speak out, even if that meant putting my own life in danger. We are entering a period in our history that might test this belief, one that in 50 years will be looked back upon and I will either be a supporter or a resister. I will either be the person who helps those who cannot, or the person who lets them suffer.

I pray that God gives me the strength to be the resister, that he puts me where I need to be so that I can help those who need help, and stand up and speak out for those who cannot do so themselves. I pray that God will hold me to these truths, that he will make my heart pure and strong. I pray that as I speak out for justice, it is more that the clanging of a noisy cymbal. I pray that God will give me strength through love, so that my cymbal will become a drum and more will join the song.

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