I recently read Maus by Art Spiegelman. Finished it on a cold Sunday afternoon and then had to walk in the sharp 16 degree air for more than an hour. Needed to let tears freeze to my cheeks so I felt a little discomfort, a sickness in my belly from the horror that happened to so many Jews, of reading about Polish people, some who helped, some who did not, from understanding that even other Jews would give up their own people to try to save themselves.
Feeling sadness in wondering if some of my Polish relatives were the helpers or the oppressors. Did they have to run and hide? Did my paternal great grandfather, an Austrian orphan, come to America with another family to be saved? Did relatives from the German part of my family tree engage in atrocities against others who would be part of my lineage? I don’t know. As I walked I thought about the desperate millions fleeing from war today.
Fear makes people do crazy things. Desperate things. Makes them unpredictable. Makes them turn on their own.
That’s why it’s a terrible tool to use to motivate people.
Fear, desperation, uncertainty is what drove a lot of the politics of the national election and that’s bad. But we don't have to repeat the mistakes and tragedies of the past.
We don't have to act or react through fear. We can choose respect, compassion and love. We can support those who are oppressed. We can demand justice and equality for all people. We can create a future that is filled with hope and peace.