All it takes for evil to triumph is for godly men to do nothing. This was what Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), one of the founders of the Confessing Church which resisted the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler in Germany, came to realize. He had protested against Hitler’s encroachment upon the church life but had been silent about the administration’s abuses in public life. As he reflected upon his role in later years, he penned the following words:
First, they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Communist.
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.”
May we not ignore our responsibility to the oppressed, abused and neglected, however unlike us they are.