Many of us are exhausted with the various social, political and moral dilemmas of our time. We do well to listen to the wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian, who spoke out strongly about the moral dilemmas faced by German citizens in the 1930s and paid for his beliefs and activism with his life when he was murdered in a concentration camp by the Nazi regime.
Here are three of the many things he said that resonate with our own time and circumstances:
“We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcasts, the suspects, the maltreated — in short, from the perspective of those who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and to action.”
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.”
“The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.”
Whatever our political persuasion or our spiritual tradition, may we find the strength to stand bravely again with the principles and values that help us discern, unmask, and overcome the masquerades of evil in our midst. May we be uplifted by the remembrance of all those who have given their lives for those values, including Bonhoeffer.