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December 28, 2006

When Neutrality Kills

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 1:27

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

—Elie Wiesel

(from "Verse and Voice of the Day," Sojourners)

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Comments

Jason Taylor

I know this is parade-raining("generous deed should not be checked by cold counsel")but has anyone noticed that Elie Wiesel, if he meant that literally, managed to doom himself to a lifetime of perjury. After all it is physically impossible for a person not to be silent sometime. Presumably somewhere, someone was being oppressed every time he slept.
That is of course being glib. But one also must remember not to commit ourselves to do more then we are able.

Steve (SBK)

Jason,
I'm impressed with how you go back and review old entries. (I just don't have the time or inclination).
Your point to not over-commit is a good one. However, I think the context (or intent) of the quote is to attack the bystander mindset rather than encourage workaholism.
Also, the idea is probably "once spoken/written, words(/actions?) can't be taken back". Once you communicate your idea, it is forever heard.
(But, you mentioned you were just being picky on the literal interpretation... so, just some additional thoughts)

Steve (SBK)

Also, this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. probably also applies:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

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