First they came for the Americans

Image Credit: Jerry Kiesewetter

First they came for the black people, and I did not speak out — because I was not a black person;

Then they came for the immigrants, and I did not speak out — because I was not an immigrant;

Then they came for the Democrats, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Democrat;

Then they came for the women, and I did not speak out — because I was not a feminist;

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Authors note: This is a blatant riff off of a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller written in the aftermath of the Jewish holocaust written in the context of Donald Trump’s immigration ban in January of 2016. The first time I read Niemöller’s poem was like taking a bucket of ice water to the face. It woke me up to how the rights of others were inextricably tied to my own freedoms. As a straight, white, middle-class, able-bodied female; I am born into a position that will know comparatively little about suffering at the hands of people in power. How arbitrary, this birth. How lucky to be part of the majority. But a small wrinkle in the fabric of society could find me even now on the wrong side of poverty, race, gender, ability. In the face of suffering would I not want a kind hand to shield my rights? To resonate my voice? It’s this sense of self-preservation, for in the shadow of uneven power it’s only a matter of time before the sword swings your way, that I stand with people different than me. While some political movements do not resonate with my personal values, I believe it’s the duty of all people to see where injustice is being done and support the side of freedom whenever possible. And with time, standing beside those different from me planted seeds of great compassion and empathy. The fruits of those seeds are what fuel my march towards equality now.

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