On Friday night, several of us gathered to watch Paper Clips, the story of Tennessee middle-schoolers who set out to create a Holocaust Memorial. During the project, several Holocaust survivors spoke about the atrocities committed by Hitler’s men. Sometimes it just seems hard to believe that a society could ever get to the point where this could happen.
Andy Andrews wrote a book called How to Kill 11 Million People. It set out to explain how something like this happened, and how it might could be prevented in the future. In the book, he quoted a German churchgoer:
We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because we felt, what could anyone do to stop it? Each Sunday morning, we would hear the train whistle blowing in the distance, then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars! Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sounds of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us. We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it now, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep.
Edmund Burke wrote, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Or, in this case, sing louder.
If you want to do your part to make tomorrow better than today, you can’t pretend that nothing is wrong. You can’t cover up the “check engine light” with electrical tape. You can’t sing louder to drown out the cries of brokenness in your heart. You can’t ignore where society is jumping off the rails by simply hoping the train won’t derail. You need to take action.
Simply put, “nothing” is one of the worst things a disciple can do.