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Indeed, I think if we are committed to the traditionally liberal notions of democracy, self rule, freedom to act and freedom to be left alone, one has little other choice but to act when another is in desperation, and even when crisis abounds. I think it's an issue of principle and to take the role of silence is complicity, and as Wiesel says, "a nod to the aggressor" (I think this was in one of the previous posts.) The challenge is how nations, in a modern setting, are able to convince their citizens of the moral and ethical need to act. When government articulates a clear moral and imperative need to act, its citizens should be aligned with that level of moral outrage. When it is not, it is reflective of either government's inability to articulate the moral issue present or that the citizenry does not believe in the moral issue present. Either way, there is a credibility gap that needs to be addressed.
A quote by Dante that is often associated with the halocaust is as follows: "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." This reflects much of how the world, and perhaps in particular, the United States, reacted to the isolation, torturing, and murdering of millions of Jews. While Hilter's campaigne to ride the world of an entire race began long before the American's entry into the war, it was only after the Empire of Japan attacked American soil that the United States became fully involved. Many point to this as an example of convenient morality, in that the public was happy to maintain a doctrine of isolationism, declaring that the slaughtering of an entire race was simply "not our problem", while moments after the bombardment and destruction of much of the Pacific fleet, we quickly declared war on foreign aggressors.
One possible opinion on the matter, although it is definitely not my own, is Frederick Nietzsche's idea of overcoming. Nietzsche would say that if a man helped another man in need, he would be doing the man a disservice by denying him the opportunity to overcome adversity on his own. The best way to help those in need is by allowing them to help themselves.
I think of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. Of course we should help those who are less fortunate than ourselves, with the hope that they, too, will pass it forward once they are back on their own feet. However, it pays to do so with caution since there is so much violence in our world. I am thinking in particular of an incident which happened in our community no too long ago. On a rainy night, a man stopped on the highway to help a woman who had a flat tire. The man who stopped was jumped by another man hiding in the bushes. The two of them beat him severely and then stole his car. I am sure he will think twice before he stops again. It is a very sad commentary on our world today.
I think one has to. To quote Martin Luther King, Jr., "an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." There can be no time where we decide, no, I am not going to help out; I am just going to let these terrible things happen.
To quote Elie Wiesel, and I am not sure if this is from Night:
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
America did help liberate Germany, and many others. The countires that remained neutral probably did so because they were opposed to war, violence, etc. In fact many of the smaller countires that remained neutral still allowed refugees into their borders. Jewish people with fake visas, etc. The allied powers weren't uncaring, America was in the middle of the Great depression, as were other countries. To fight a war without economic resources would've been disatrous. Many people died while fighting the axis powers too. I really think people are over analzing world war 2.
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