Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A matter of survival

At the outbreak of World War 2, Hitler invaded Poland and subsequently stripped the Jewish community of their rights and dignity. 400,000 Jews were resettled in a 3.5 sq mile walled ghetto in Warsaw, (previously home to 160,000 people), numbers that would later swell to over half a million. Within 2 years that number shrunk to 60,000 as starvation, illness, and executions took their toll.

As Hitler's plans to gas the remaining Jews took effect, some survivors finally found the courage to fight deportations. 28 days later, the rag-tag resistance was put down. 7000 were executed for their role in the Warsaw uprising.

Some historians asked if death was almost certain, why didn’t more Polish Jews resist and fight back in the ghetto. As it has been pointed out, didn't Jews outnumber guards many times over on some work details prior to the uprising? Sadly, the suppression of many by the few continues in our day.

I think of the time our own children were threatened by an unruly boy at the poolside when they brought their friend in for a swim. Out of fear they lied and left to save their own skin. Should they have stood up for their friend and defend their right? Is this what Jesus means when he says to give up your cloak as well, when somone demands your tunic? By walking away did they not encourage the bully to continue his aggressive ways?

The late Mike Yaconelli wrote about the time three tough-looking policemen stopped a group of adults and highschoolers on a mission trip to Mexico. The heavily-armed policemen would have confiscated their borrowed truck which was loaded with supplies if not for a quick thinking Chilean teen on the team.

The teenager waved an official-looking document in the policemen's faces arguing that their truck was legally contracted for transport in Mexico. If they didn't want trouble they would have to let the entourage go. Fortunately the policemen relented. When Yaconelli asked the young man how he pulled it off since the document clearly had no such clause, he coolly replied, "Yes, but they couldn't read English."

What do these stories tell us? That sometimes pat answers and homilies don't always get us out of a tight spot. So I have been thinking: do our children need a course in ‘survival’? Do we need to pick up streetsmarts?

A good friend of mine told me that he encourages his sons never to take ‘no’ for an answer. Say the kids have been told to finish reading three chapters before they can watch TV; Dad wants them to present their case if they didn’t agree with the rule and argue for a compromise, like wrapping it up after one chapter instead. He said it's to teach them negotiation skills.

Stand up to bullies. Lie to save your skin. Fight for your right. Negotiate and compromise. Don't get pushed around. Survive. How do you measure up to the Golden Rule, of loving God and loving your neighbour as yourself in these violent times? How do these ideas square with a Saviour who gave his life like a lamb led to the slaughter?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

shut up moron you dont knw what youre talkin about