I am of course not a player in any way in the upcoming November US Presidential election. I do not have a vote; I have no family members who have a vote. I am not even directly in contact with many people who will be voting.

But, as I have suggested elsewhere (https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/obsessing-about-trump/), a US Presidential election is a world event. We are all affected by whoever sits in the big chair behind the impressive looking desk in the Oval Office. We dare not be indifferent to the outcome of 8 November 2016.

Even if I did live in the US and was part of the political process there, I would always hesitate to tell anyone how they should cast their ballot in any election. It seems to me generally inappropriate for people who are entrusted with any kind of platform due to their leadership in a spiritual organization, to use that platform to promote one particular candidate for public office.

So, even in the bizarre and somewhat frightening electoral process unfolding in the US at this time, I would stop short of trying to tell anyone how they should vote (even if I thought it would do any good). But, I will not stop short of using whatever opportunity I might have to pass on anything that seems like legitimate information that might help someone who desires to cast their vote with integrity and for the well-being of the world community.

One of those pieces of information appeared yesterday on my Facebook wall.

(…. momentary aside – Facebook is often criticized for being a cause among “friends” of resentment, dissatisfaction and breakdown in human relationships. But, at a time like this Facebook, if used well, can play a significant role in educating and illuminating people who genuinely want to make an informed and thoughtful political choice. Hence, if people pay attention, Facebook can support a healthy democratic process. Ignorance and a determination not to see reality are the enemies of democracy. If posting a piece on Facebook helps one person see more clearly it has performed a valuable function the democratic process.)

Now back to the article I saw posted on Facebook yesterday.

MattieIt was written by Mattie J. Bekink. She is a consultant on institutional strategy, communications, and human rights, a writer and mother. She lives with her family in Amsterdam.

In 2014, Bekink experienced one of the most horrifying tragedies any parent could ever imagine.

She tells the story here: https://medium.com/@mattie.bekink/another-hillary-email-leak-b29f9a16f77d#.57hzh2m1k.

Bekink goes on to describe how one person in her life responded to this heartbreaking tragedy.

In the course of telling her story, which I urge you to read and pass on to anyone you know, Bekink speaks of working as a volunteer at Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The experience, she says, caused her to realize that

Victims, perpetrators, helpers, and bystanders are everywhere.

None of us can ever fully protect ourselves from being “victims” of forces beyond our control. But we can all resist being “perpetrators, helpers,” or “bystanders.”

I am haunted these days by the words of the German Luteran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).

In 1934 in Germany Martin Niemöller was a supporter of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party and, by his own admission in a 1963 West German television interview,  an antisemite.

Eventually pastor Niemöller changed his mind about Nazism and renounced his antisemitism. He came to see the violent horror of Hitler’s convictions and became a vocal opponent of Nazi tyranny. Between 1937 and 1945 Martin Niemoller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and later in the Dachau concentration camp.

After the war, Niemöller travelled and spoke on the horrors of war and the urgent responsibility of all people to do anything in their power to create more just and peaceful societies. On 6 January 1946, in a speech to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt, Niemöller said,

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.

Mattie J. Bekink has chosen to “speak out.” She has spoken about her personal experience with an honest and authentic voice. Her words need to be heard and we do well to join our voices with hers, lest there be no voice of honesty left to speak at the end of the day.

Advertisements