I recently watched the Pianist again. Have you seen that movie? It follows one man’s terrible story of survival of the second World War. It’s utterly wrenching.
Every time I watch this movie, I’m struck by the instinctively submissive nature in human beings. We yield to authority even if that authority has no real right over us. We yield even when doing so costs us our lives. The Jews outnumbered the Nazi soldiers. Why did it take so long for them to resist being treated like animals, being forced out of their homes? Why didn’t they stand up and protect themselves sooner?
Taking a real stand goes against the grain for many of us. Have you ever witnessed someone attack another person and done nothing about it, even when your insides are throbbing with the need to intervene? Have you ever been treated poorly at work or in school and not defended yourself? I know I have. It creates a miserable mixture of bad feelings: failure, disappointment in yourself, impotent anger, wounded indignation.
Protesting violence doesn’t seem to come easily for some reason but it’s vital to our happiness. Even to our very survival in some cases. It’s shaky, scary ground to stand on when you refuse to yield to injustice and violence but the reward is the achievement of dignity and self-worth.