Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Speak Out and Speak Now!

I was reading in Proverbs, and I ran across a verse that started a domino effect of thoughts and ideas that became this blog. This is the verse:

"Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy." ~Proverbs 31:8-9

When I first read this passage, it really struck a chord. In my bible, this is under the heading "The Sayings of King Lemuel," so naturally it would seem Lemuel is giving advice to future kings. But, should we not also, as citizens in the 21st century, speak up for those who are not heard or acknowledged, and make their cause known when governments, wicked leaders, society, and others in general try to keep them in silence? Sometimes they are silenced intentionally, but other times, people are just so unaware of the poverty and need in the world. I couldn't even begin to name them all...AIDS, famine, natural disasters, poor treatment of women... Although these thoughts came to mind, I also began thinking about issues in the U.S. around where I live that this verse could apply to. How could I speak up for others? As a writer, one could expose the injustice around the world, which is noble and an exciting prospect. But also, what about the poor man on the street, or children with handicaps? There are many categories of people in our society that are overlooked or just can physically not plead their cause. Abortion is also a major issue, perhaps THE major issue. Clearly, that would be speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. As I continued to think on this a quote bounced around in my head, which I retreaved with the help of Google:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me."
~Martin Niemöller

All I remembered of this quote, was the haunting last line, that "they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me." According to the source I found, Niemoller was a German Protestant pastor who spoke out against Adolph Hitler and his evils, and ended up in a concentration camp for seven years. He believed that the German people as a whole, and their Protestant leaders, had remained far too silent as hundreds of people were slaughtered, and he was right. It made me think. Who could (or should) I be speaking out for? It is frighteningly true, that if we, as humans, simply rely on our survival instincts of self-protection, we may remain "safe" for awhile, but in the end have no advocate. So I'm challenging you and myself, to speak out and speak out now, before it's too late for them, or for us.

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