“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana
The same week the United States elected the most bigoted presidential candidate since George Wallace in 1968, the rest of world remembered Germany’s Kristallnacht, Nov. 8-9, 1938.
Over two days, the government arrested tens of thousands of men and turned a blind eye to the organized burning and looting of thousands of Jewish properties. Members of a religious minority were systematically stripped of their rights and property. And it was all perfectly legal or approved by the Hitler government – which was legally elected and carrying out the will of the people.
Perhaps too many Americans don’t know the specifics of the night of the broken glass, Kristallnacht. Perhaps they are ignorant of the history of Fascism in Europe. Or perhaps they agree with the president-elect’s intentions to strip Americans of their rights based on sexual orientation, gender or religion.
Much to their national shame, many mainstream Germans supported the government as it oppressed those on the fringe of the mainstream culture.
Kristallnacht will not come to the United States in a smashing single night. It will come in a thousand smashed windows, thousands of incidents of violence all condoned and tacitly encouraged by leaders who single out those who are different while they legislate against minorities.
Millions of Americans spent the week justifiably worried about their future.
The Way of Jesus demands that his followers open wide their arms to the people singled out and marginalized.
Jesus is on the side of the oppressed, not the oppressors.
Jesus is always on the side of the powerless, not the powerful.
Jesus stands with the victims and the accused, even against unjust laws and in the face of government and religious leaders.
This is the example of Jesus we are called to follow.
The past week saw the United States forget the importance of empathy, led by s0-called Christian leaders who daily fail to demonstrate the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus calls his followers to care for and protect children, widows, orphans, aliens and strangers. This is the teaching of Jesus. Anything else isn’t of God.