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View Diary: A Promise to My Grandfather: A Follow Up (321 comments)

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  •  Responsibility. (4.00)
    My father has once or twice told me this story: When he was little and lived in Israel for a few years, his family had a maid who had been in one of the camps.  I can't remember if the prisoners had to go out to work, but for some reason every day they had to walk a distance, and those who were not strong enough to keep up were shot.  One day, toward the end of the war, the maid couldn't keep going, and fell down.  The Nazis who were supposed to shoot her didn't; I think they even helped her up.  This was almost certainly because they knew that the Allies were about to win, and hoped that a moment of - not kindness, but cessation from brutality maybe - would help them when judgment came.  So because they didn't shoot at that one moment, she lived.

    Today I'm reading Philip Gourevitch's amazing book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families and there's a similar moment, where a car carrying a child being transported to the relative safety of the Hotel Milles Collines was stopped, and the child was probably about to be killed, only to have one of the leaders of Hutu Power prevent the killing, citing world opinion.  The child's mother tells Gourevitch about this, and says (to paraphrase) "but that doesn't negate what he did; he deserves to die."  

    So even before I came to this marvelous diary, I was thinking about responsibility.  Our responsibility to each other and to justice.  It's not enough for a killer to stay their hand once.  It's not enough for an onlooker to refuse to participate in evil.  Nothing less than resistance against it is enough.  Whether it's an individual act of courage like Ivan and Roman, or our massed fight against what some people want to make of our country, our insistence that Rwanda not be the precendent for Darfur and that our government - our government, no matter what Bush wants us to believe - take action to save not just individual lives but a people, whatever it is, we have to resist, not simply to sit by.  

    Thank you for again making this imperative concrete and personal and beautiful.

    •  "Nothing less than resistance..." (none)
      And to resist the earlier, when it is safer and the leverage is more effective, is the wisest course...

      If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

      by HenryDavid on Fri Mar 04, 2005 at 09:48:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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