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Monday, June 6, 2016

Just Wondering

First, before I really begin let me preface this by stating I think I am a fairly decent human. Not the greatest but far from the worst. Someone who genuinely likes people who have stories and lives different from mine. I am not terribly judgmental and have a "live and let live" attitude most of the time. But how would I behave if the chips were down?

I've been reading a lot of books recently about WW2 and the Holocaust, some non fiction and some historical fiction. Understand I am currently juggling 7 of them, so I have finished none but as I hop back and forth between them it has given me pause and caused me to really think about what sort of human I really am.

I am now stuck wondering if I would have the internal fortitude to withstand life in a concentration camp, had I been Jewish, or to accept death if imminent. Would I be willing to sacrifice myself for the greater good? Would I fight back?  Or if I would have the courage to speak up if I saw a political/social wrong? Or have the strength to offer shelter or resources to someone who needed it? Or join some resistance movement?  Or might I just be one of the masses occupied with my own life and turn a blind eye? Or would I just feign helplessness and cry myself to sleep because of my lack of involvement?

I like to think I would be noble and do the right thing, but I have never lived through any similar circumstances so I honestly don't know what I would do or how I would act.  And that uncertainty really bothers me. I sincerely hope I never have to find out!

Do any of you ever create hypothetical situations and wonder what you would do? Or am I just some extremely weird piece of cheese with way too many books and too much thinking time on my hands?

The only thing I know for sure is after I finish these books I am going to read some vapid, mindless chick book.

20 comments:

  1. As a kid I was convinced I would be the type of person to hide people in my attic, help them get out of the country, lie to the authorities to save lives, etc. As an adult, I feel much more aware of the complexities that surround the bigger issue -- I hope that I would stand up for what is right, and I think I would. I just don't know if I'd be quite as big a hero as I imagined myself to be as a child.

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    1. It is interesting isn't it, and a little frightening that I might opt for self preservation. Like I said I hope I never have to find out.

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  2. I try to stay away from books like that now that I am older. I'm heartbroken for weeks. I think I am getting softhearted in my old age.
    And yes, read chick books to get back to normal. LOL. Just like having to watch Disney movies after watching scary movies.

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    1. I am having a hard time putting them down, then having a hard time breathing after reading them. I know there are horrors in war, but some of the things that happened were savage, sadistic and beyond human.

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  3. I have asked myself these same questions after seeing movies with similar themes like The Diary of Anne Frank. I used to be the kind of person who stood up for what I believed in and wrote letters to newspapers, spoke at public meetings, etc, but it didn't seem to do any good in the long run. It may seem trivial but I just recently tried to stand up against using butter pan spray on top of bread items being served to young children at school (which I researched and found that it was unhealthy) and I got put in my place pretty good...and subsequently fired for going against the boss. Unfortunately nobody stood up for me when I got my pink slip.

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    1. Sadly injustice happens everyday, not just on the grand scale of the Holocaust
      “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
      ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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  4. Goodness, that's a bit deep isn't it. Actually I have asked myself those kinds of questions before and always thought I would be something of a coward. However, when we recently ended up taking on our Director of HR (who had diplomatic immunity no less) I was one of only 10 people (out of 750) who signed the complaint against her and I ended up going "all the way" when several of the others backed down. We all paid a price for it though - but we did get rid of the b"""tch! Don't know if you ever read the poem by Martin Niemoller:


    In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew; And then . . . they came for me . . .



    Martin Niemöller

    It's a tough question. Anna

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    1. I have read Niemoller and actually thought of using it, but I am currently reading Bonhoeffer so I quoted him instead.
      Good for you for being one of 10. I know inaction is always the easiest path, but it is seldom the best one.

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  5. My father was a German Jew and we believe (he couldnt/wouldn't talk about it) that he lost family in those camps. This is definitely something I have thought about. And I hope I would do the right thing - but don't know. Self preservation is a powerful thing. But so is injustice...

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    1. One of the books I am reading is only snippets and remembrances of people who survived, or American/British/Australian soldiers who were at the camps as liberators. I am horrified at some of the tortures humans are capable of, and also some of them humans are capable of withstanding. As I said, I hope I am never tested to this extreme, but I do think I need to become more concerned with justice.

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  6. I am stumped. I keep trying to comment but exactly as you said, whose to know until the situation is before them. It's such a heavy thing to think about too, not that we shouldn't all think along these lines at times, but what would I do? They say that if you can find the smallest instances that compare it'd be the same. But it is very difficult to even find little things that compare to such catastrophic and horrific situations.

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  7. You are so right about the comparisons. I guess I just can't wrap my head around humans being able to do things like this to any living creature, much less another human. Then add the component of a population ignoring and offering little if any aid adds another unimaginable scenario. I think for me, I am going to have to be more deliberate with my response to local injustices, because small things happen all the time.

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  8. I too wonder about this. I am a Christian (Lutheran) so Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a big topic of conversation. I don't know if you've heard of him but he participated in an attempt to get rid of Hitler and when it failed he was jailed. That plus speaking out against Hitler did him in. He was executed but before that he ministered to the prisoners at his location. Reports said he was praying the whole way.
    I'm pretty much a weakling. I'd like to think I would stand up though.

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    1. I like to think I am noble and would do the correct thing, but I am not sure.

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  9. Interesting to think about. Once at my school they announced a lockdown was happening (intruder alert) so I ran out into the hall and gathered every student I could find, even in the boys' washroom, screaming at the top of my lungs, herded them into my classroom and locked the door. Later it was announced that it was a drill, not the real deal but it was gratifying to know I would try to save everyone that I could in scary circumstances. It's a very primal thing - I acted, I didn't think - and I imagine most people would do the same in a similar situation. It's instinctive. Oh, and by the way - I am using the fifty-ten suggestion for my age!! :)

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    1. It's nice for you to know how you would react. I hope if I ever have to make a decision it will be the right one, but I just don't know.

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  10. I have wondered what I would do, sure I would stand up against injustice. I have helped caused change but suffered for speaking out.

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    1. I am just not sure what I would do, especially if my entire existence was on the line.

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  11. I have been thinking on this post for a while. I'll just flat out say it, I doubt I would have the guts to survive. I darn well though will fight with as much as I have before the out right injustice becomes oppressive, but know most often I probably have, and may often continue to lose. Some day, it might make a difference though.

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    1. You know, if enough people demand a difference it will happen.

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