What Are You Going to do About it?

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” -Edmund Burke


The importance of knowing your place in history is no secret. Auschwitz and other concentration camps from the Nazi regime have been preserved and turned into museums precisely for this reason. It is (almost) universally acknowledged that what happened in Nazi concentration camps was horrific, inhumane, and should be prevented from ever happening again. Walking through Auschwitz just over a week ago, I saw prisoners’ quarters, starvation chambers, gas chambers, and walked the path from the train station to the gas chamber which anyone considered unfit for work would have walked. There is no doubt the gravity of the history in these places has an effect on anyone who visits, but as I walked out, I wasn’t overwhelmed with the horror or the sadness of it, as I had expected to be. Instead, there was a question plaguing me.

What are you going to do about it?

 Notice the question was not What would you have done? or What should have been done? but What are you going to do about it?

 Obviously, I can’t do anything about the horrors that happened at Auschwitz, or any of the Nazi concentration camps at this point, I can’t turn back time. But as we look around today, how often do we see things that are manifestations of similar attitudes, of a similar disrespect for the sanctity of life? How often are the religious in a community seen as a threat, or an undermining of state power? How often are children seen as a nuisance, or as people who haven’t earned enough to be worth anything? How often are pregnant women seen as those who have chosen to stop contributing to society in favor of contributing to overpopulation? How often are the elderly treated as living waste? And most importantly, how often do we let these attitudes fester in the minds of the people around us?

What are you going to do about it?

These attitudes are often pushed aside as major concerns in favor of evangelization, assuming that once people know Christ, they will accept the doctrines against abortion and euthanasia. There is no doubt that grace plays a huge role in helping a person come to understand counter-cultural teachings, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for speaking the truth on these issues. In some cases, life-issues are a road-block to someone’s acceptance of Christ. In others, someone who has had a life-changing encounter with Christ still doesn’t understand these teachings, and still needs someone to explain it to them.

What are you going to do about it?

 I have come up with a few answers for myself, but here are some things I think we should all seriously consider important tasks, if not responsibilities, when it comes to life issues in modern society.

1)   Pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, mass murder, and an increase in the respect for life. Prayer is an incredibly powerful spiritual tool. Let us not waste it.

2)   Educate yourself. People have questions. People often have misconceptions about what the Church actually teaches. Be the person who can shed light on the situation. Evangelium Vitae is a great resource for this.

3)   Realize, you are your brothers keeper. Cain got this one wrong. We are responsible for the sanctity of life. We will have to answer for all the times when we drop the ball. This is worth addressing in detail, and perhaps will one day become it's own post, but for now check out Evangelium Vitae for a discussion on the idea.

4)   Do not be afraid. The King of Heaven and earth is on your side.

It is also worth considering, that while these are tasks we all must do, some of us may be called to dedicate more of our time to the defense of life and the eradication of attitudes in opposition to it. Defending a culture of life is an incredible way to give glory to God, and to pave a path for more people to find and love Him.

We have a hard road ahead of us, but this is no reason to stop asking ourselves what we are going to do about the injustices of the world. If we let these attitudes continue to fester, we will find ourselves moving closer and closer to the next Auschwitz. And so I now ask you, What are you going to do about it?