When you study history and the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 30s and 40s you have to wonder why significant numbers of people couldn’t see through the insanity Hitler was preaching and its horrific results. People smarter than myself have deduced it was because the majority of people were followers and not critical thinkers and accepted, unchallenged, the things being told them. And, for the most part, did nothing.
In his book “Raging With Compassion: Pastoral Responses To The Problem of Evil” by John Swinton, which I highly recommend, the author quotes Jewish Political Theorist Hannah Arendt on her thoughts as she attended Adolph Eichmann’s trial for crimes against humanity, crimes against Jews, Poles, Slovenes and Gypsies, war crimes and other charges committed in World War 2. She was expecting Eichmann, who was responsible for transporting millions of innocent people of all ages and gender to concentration camps, to be a monster but “instead she discovered a bureaucrat”. Like so many of the Nazi war criminals he was just following orders and couldn’t break the oath he swore to the Fuhrer. She concludes “that the horrendous evil for which Eichmann was responsible was the product of an inability to engage in critical thinking”.
Is failure to think critically the reason why so many others in Germany did, apparently, so little to stop it. I know it’s easy for me to be critical having never lived under such a repressive, controlling government but it seems that many, many people claim to have not known what was going on all around them in spite of the things being said, the activities all around them, and the millions of people vanishing. No doubt many failed to act out of fear for their own lives and/or their unwillingness to believe their natural instincts about what was happening to the many people who simply disappeared. Whatever the reason, the killing seemed to go on virtually unchallenged with very few attempts to stop it. And the consequences are beyond contemptible, horrific and mind-numbing.
Albert Einstein said “the world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” I fear, and history appears to prove, that he was right.
Why did slavery last so long in America? Because most of the people who knew it was wrong did nothing. Why have 55 million unborn children been slaughtered? Because those of us who know its wrong, do nothing. Why is the Ukraine about to be invaded by Russia? Because those of us who fear it’s going to happen and know that it’s wrong, are doing nothing.
Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and Helga Khuse, Currently a Honorary Research Fellow at Monash University in Australia, both leading ethicist’s of our time, have said “we think that some infants with severe disabilities should be killed”. Dr. Singer has also stated that the “life of a newborn baby is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee”. These are the leading ethicist of our time who are helping to shape the ethics of our present and future medical professionals. Frightening is an understatement, and insane is not too strong a word.
We live in a time where most people are critical-siders (our sides right, yours is wrong no matter what) as opposed to critical thinkers. If we follow the Singer/Khuse logic, which is eugenic at its core with only an expansion of the master race to include all “healthy, contributing to society, people”, what do you think their response will be to the freight train coming at us in the form of the baby boomer generation completely retiring? What will they do to halt the massive increase in medical expenditures and costs associated with longer living and greater numbers of social security beneficiaries? Kill ’em! They’ll justify it by stressing it’s better for the elderly, individually, because they don’t want to live as a drain on their children and grandchildren and it’s certainly better for the nation as a whole to spend its money and devote its attention to people who contribute to society rather than those who are “useless eaters”.
Martin Niemoller’s, prominent pastor who opposed the Nazi regime and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in a concentration camp, famous quote bears remembering:
“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.”
Will our legacy be, first they came for the unborn children and I did not speak out–Because I had other things to do. Then they came for the elderly but I did not speak out–Because I wasn’t elderly. Then they came for the???
* “The elderly are useless eaters”, quote by Henry Kissinger in the book The Final Days