When I was about 14 years old, I came across a poem/statement whose meaning never left me. I didn’t know who wrote it, the title, or if I would ever find it again, but I knew that it was powerful. It gave me a different point of view about the importance of finding my voice and speaking out when myself and others are not treated fairly. It plays inside my head when I see injustice and propels me to act.
I am, and hopefully will always be, a work in progress. This poem/statement has had an everlasting and powerful impact on who I am right now.
Slightly different versions of this poem can be found on the internet, and there have been debates about the originator, but the meaning stays the same. Martin Neimoeller, a Protestant pastor, made this statement about Germany’s failure to speak out against the Nazis, but for me, it serves as motivation to speak up:
First they came for the Communists,
but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Socialist and the Trade Unionists,
but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews,
but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.