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Will You Speak For Yourself?

First they came... Below is the poem “First they came…” attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

First it is in German for those that understand German and the subtle differences between the translation although I do think the English translation is amazing there is something about reading or listening to a piece in the language in which it was originally written in.

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Jude.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

I have my friend A to thank for this; he told me that he has this up in his classroom and that it really means a lot to him because his Grandmother is a holocaust survivor.

After reading it I was reminded of a motivational film I saw in high school where a brother and sister, both quite young, were walking down the beach and the tide had rolled out and the beach was covered with jelly fish.

The young boy picked up a jelly fish and started walking towards the water.

His sister interrupts him and asks, “What are you doing?”

He replies, “I am taking this one back to the water”

She then continues, “But look at them all here they are going to die, what difference does it make?”

He turns around and replies, “It makes a difference to this one…”

That really hit home with me and I realised that one individual can affect change and if EVERY individual could affect change we could make it happen all that much faster.

So here is my challenge to you…

Affect change in just one person…and give them what they need to affect change in one person…

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4 Responses to Will You Speak For Yourself?

  1. A Lewis Reply

    14 November 2008 at 21:58:53

    That’s a pretty damned tall order, my friend. But I’ll try. I promise.

  2. turnipHed Reply

    14 November 2008 at 22:21:58

    And in the WISE words of Yoda,

    “do or do not there is no try HMMMM”

    :-)

  3. Charles Ravndal Reply

    16 November 2008 at 04:47:08

    This is interesting. It is nice to affect change to another person especially for the better.

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