My father’s favourite story was about how he was captured by the Nazis in Holland during World War II and was put on a train to work as slave labour in Germany. He said the other prisoners were all talking about jumping off the train and what would happen to them if they didn’t. They’d have to bury bodies on the battlefields or work in German factories that were being bombed by their side, by the allies. My father didn’t talk about it – he kept quiet and paid attention. In Holland they say a cornered cat makes strange jumps. Papa was cornered, but he made a good choice to jump.
This story teaches there is no such thing as neutral. The Dutch said they were neutral when the Nazis were invading Poland and Czechoslovakia. They were neutral, so there was no reason for them to worry. While the Nazis were rounding up the Jews in Germany and Eastern Europe, they were concerned but they were neutral, “let’s just not get involved,” they thought. But then when the Nazis invaded Holland, the Dutch suddenly realized they weren’t neutral, they’d been on the side of the Nazis all along, but they just didn’t know it.
The things we don’t do – our non-actions – are as important as our actions, and if we don’t actively fight for our beliefs, we are actively fighting against them.
But how we fight is another story.