For no particular reason whatsoever, let’s try a little thought experiment.
Imagine for a moment that you are a citizen of Germany at some time in the past… oh let’s say the year 1941.
You are just a regular guy/lady, going about your business. You have a job. Maybe you have a family. Your country recently elected a new, unconventional leader. People are comparing him to the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh. There’s no way he could be THAT bad.
Maybe you didn’t vote for him, but it’s your country and you want it to be a good one so you’re going to try your best to be a good German! Wonderful. Here’s some tips:
#1 Keep Doing All the Things You Used to Do
There’s been leaders you’ve disagreed with before. You didn’t go rioting in the streets then and you won’t do it this time either. Just because the guy is a little out-of-the box doesn’t mean you need to radically change your life. There’s no need to change your routine. Go to work just like you used to. Drive your car just like you used to. Make small talk just like you used to. It’s kind of strange that a lot more people seem to be comfortable with publicly talking about how much they hate Jews… But hey, that’s their problem, right?
#2 Help People in Need
Good Germans help other Germans in need. This has always been true, and in 1941 Germany it remains true. Maybe you could help your neighbor in their garden. Go visit an elderly relative that could use the company. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or even at the local church! A group of guys want you to help them demolish a local synagogue? No, wait. Don’t help those guys. Your neighbor wants you to help clean up the rubble that was once the local synagogue? It’s kind of weird that someone needs to do that. But sure, help that guy.
cleaning up after Kristallnacht
#3 Don’t Do Stuff You Wouldn’t Have Done Before
So you’re a regular guy, right? Regular guys wouldn’t participate in the systematic destruction of Jewish owned businesses. Regular guys would watch from behind their closed curtains with their lights turned out. Right?
Well, I guess it’s hard to say what a regular guy would do in this kind of situation. That’s not the kind of situation a regular person is usually put into. This is an out of the ordinary situation and it can be pretty difficult to decide how you would react to such a situation.
Remember months ago when some of your more radical friends were saying they were going to move to another country after this guy was elected? That all seemed so silly then. Now, while you are cowering behind your window and watching your friends and neighbors do terrible things to some of your other friends and neighbors, it seems like maybe they had the right idea. It’s come down to “us” against “them” and you still aren’t quite sure whether you’re an “us” or a “them.”
#4 Try to Be Nice
Here’s the deal. You’re a German. But you’re also an individual and all you can do is make the best decision in any given moment. Make sure those decisions are driven by your values. You’re going to feel lots of things in the months to come. It sounds corny but follow your heart. Be good German. Be nice to people. Decide what it means to be nice to people, and do it to as many people as you possibly can. You might have to ask yourself some very hard questions. It might have helped if you thought about these hard questions before shit got real.
Remember that a lot of the people you encounter are feeling many of the same things you are. They are scared, confused, guilty, or some combination of all three. We aren’t all that different from each other. Just keep thinking about that.
Okay. That was a fun thought experiment right? The past was a weird time. Thank goodness we are all now living in the enlightened future!
Thoughts, prayers and good vibes to our readership.