close
close

Life can be beautiful when we appreciate our differences.

play

Life can be beautiful and interesting when we celebrate and appreciate our differences.

On the other hand, humiliating others is not only wrong but, as a commonly accepted behavior, can even lead to the weakening of the foundations of our great nation.

An example of this are the moving words of Martin Niemoller. He was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian. He was an outspoken anti-communist and supported Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Niemoller thought Hitler could fix things, restore Germany to its deserved glory, and root out those who would put government above religion.

Ultimately, Niemoller became disillusioned with the Nazis as Hitler consolidated power and moved against the Church. Niemoller was arrested and spent time in concentration camps until he was released by the Allies.

After the war, Niemoller paid tribute to the lessons he learned. His words should be a beacon for us today.

“First they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out – because I wasn’t a socialist. Then they came for the unionists, and I didn’t say anything – because I wasn’t a unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I said nothing – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Those that Pastor Niemoller mentions – the socialists, trade unionists and Jews – may mean something different to us in our culture than they did in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Yet the core of what Niemoller said is still relevant to us today.

Just think. Over the past few years, we have knowingly allowed Donald Trump and those close to him to drive over us in herds. We have allowed them to usurp the news media, smear the judiciary, control Congress and ruin the reputations of those with whom they disagree.

Their contempt for others different from themselves has bubbled to the surface, even to the extent that babies and young children were separated from their parents at the border and then locked in what amounted to cages. And Donald Trump continues to enjoy wagging both his finger and his tongue at those who differ from him in philosophy or opinion. Somehow those who disagree with him are less than human, less than intelligent, less than American, less than our friends and neighbors.

Those who disagree should be kicked out of the decision-making apparatus, given social media cuts, promised retribution for their thoughts, and denied government help and support.

More Bill Gindlesperger This Christmas and America, let’s resolve to treat each other with respect

Today, a number of social media adherents fabricate, copy and share hateful messages that are factually incorrect and laced with vitriol. All in the name of making America great again. It almost resembles a drive-by shooting, with the gunmen hiding behind the dark glass of their computer screens and expressing disdain at the targets passing by.

Yelling is common and cheap.

Send the opponent to jail. Make up stories, post them online and see who actually believes the fantasies. So funny!

I myself have been the target of so much hostility and hate. After some of my political columns were published, I was bombarded with comments saying I was somehow being paid, was involved in illegal activities, and had an ax to grind.

Nothing is less true. But in this world of fantasy, the truth doesn’t seem to matter.

Pastor Niemuller would be shocked by all this animosity. If he were alive today, he might have said:

“First they criticize African-Americans, but I don’t have brown skin, so I don’t speak out. Then they disparage Hispanic Americans and people of Muslim faith, but I’m neither so I won’t speak out. Then they make fun of the disabled, but I’m as fit as a fiddle, so I don’t say anything. Then they belittle women ‘with blood coming from everywhere’, but they couldn’t really mean that, so I won’t speak out. Then they show disparaging advertisements about Jews, but I’m not a Jew, so I don’t speak out. And if they come for me, who will be left to stand up for me.”

In my own life I have not experienced such hateful rhetoric as I hear today from some of my fellow countrymen. Even from some of my friends.

Things to do in Franklin County: What to do in Franklin County in February supports local organizations

This isn’t about conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat, this issue or that. It’s about you and me. It’s about the kind of country we want to live in.

Is it true that we really want to live in a place where only those who support Donald Trump’s particular way of thinking have our respect and the protection of our government?

I certainly hope that this is not the case.

I pray that you will stand up to those who come down on us with poisonous words under the guise of: we are right and you are wrong.

The fear we have should not apply to each other, nor to those of other heritages, religions, lifestyles, political preferences, races or skin colors. The enemy should not be us. Instead, we must reject the hatred of those who seek to exploit our differences for their own benefit, agenda, power and personal enrichment.

Bill Gindlesperger is a central Pennsylvanian, a graduate of Dickinson College, Governor of the Pennsylvania System Of Higher Education (PASSHE), Shippensburg University Trustee, and President of eLynxx Solutions. eLynxx offers cloud software for sourcing and managing print and mail marketing. He is a board member, campaign advisor, successful entrepreneur, published author and commentator. He can be reached at [email protected].

Back To Top