First They Came…

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.

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