Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Silence of Injustice

Last night I came across this article in the Atlantic Monthly. It outlines the abhorrent story of an evil man who murdered babies in filthy conditions. The crimes committed by this man were so gruesome and upsetting that I had to stop reading several times. My instinct was to walk away and refuse to read anymore. The new media has been reluctant to report on this story because it is so horrible. It would have been simple to put down the article, pretend I had never read and return to my life, but I didn't. I read the entire thing. Why did I force myself to do this? Why didn't I just walk away? Because I strongly believe in the ideas expressed here:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.” 
― Elie Wiesel

I don't want to be indifferent to this, and I don't want to close my eyes and pretend it didn't happen. I know so many people who refuse to watch the news or discuss difficult issues because it is too upsetting and hurts too much. I have an issue with this. It isn't that I don't understand their position. Now that I am a mother, it easy for the evil of the world to make me physically ill. My reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting was visceral. I wanted to hide from it. Our 24 hour yellow news cycle has created an exhausting environment of sensationalism and it is easy to understand why someone would want to shut that out. 

Shutting out reality allows the evil to continue. I am not suggesting that someone should sit in  front of the tv and revel in tragedy,  but we should obtain the essential facts. I believe this is an important element of democracy and justice.  The fact that we aren't watching or reading or paying attention to the evil  doesn't mean that it isn't there, it means it cans spread unopposed. 

As a citizen it is our job to be the watchdog of our justice system. I believe what happened in the walls of this clinic are tantamount to genocide. This is a mad man who operated a Mengle type clinic, but the fact that he was allowed to operate for so long with little inspection or over-site. It is also a sad commentary on the resources available to impoverished women who find themselves in desperate circumstances.  

I cannot understand what would drive a woman to end up in place such as this. Thankfully I have been blessed with a life that is removed from that desperation, but I feel them on my heart. Beyond the women, I am devastated for these poor babies. If the media chooses not report on this, and if we refuse to read about it, then who will pray for them and their mothers? Who will write their congressmen or have difficult discussions with the  young at risk girls around them? Some of the victims were young girls who were the same age as my students. Would they be as desperate if they found themselves in the same situation? How can I, or my community, ensure that this isn't the path they take?

I am not sure that I have the answer to these situations, but I want to enter into the conversation. We cannot be silent.

1 comment:

  1. I was deeply moved by this quote from Martin Niemöller that was posted in my government teacher's classroom at SHS. (That and being a first child with a strong sense for justice)When faced with a choice to be silent, I often remember his words. I can't say I always make the right choice, but I strive to make the right choice as often as possible.

    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.