Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Would I Do

Been laid up sick the last few days, which has given me ample time for Netflix and napping.

Netflix does have a few gems.  Valkyrie is one of my all time favorite movies.  Not only is it about World War II, my all time favorite history subject, it's the only Tom Cruise movie out there that doesn't feature him running really fast.

"Watch me go zoooooooooooooooooom"

It's a true story about a German officer's plot to kill Adolf Hitler.  As the movie tells you, the Germans tried more than a dozen times to kill their Furher.  It's heartening that while so many millions hid behind the shield of "law" and "following orders," a few brave ones had the moral compass and the courage to stand up to evil.

Learning about the Holocaust, slavery, or even the segregated South in the 1950's always gets my blood boiling.  And I wonder, if I lived in one of these peculiar times in history when great injustice was the norm, would I have gone along with everyone else?  

Would I have actively participated in the wrong, telling myself I'm only following orders?  

Would I have known it was wrong but kept silent for fear of retribution?  

Would I have stood up for what's right?

What would you do?

I'd like to say I'd do what's right, but I don't know.  I'll probably never know until I'm in that situation.  Sometimes I'm surprisingly coward.  Other times I'm surprisingly brave.  I hope I'd be the kind of man like Colonel Stauffenberg, who Tom Cruise played in the movie.  

There is a lot of truth in the quote "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing."

Sometimes the cost of being a good man is quite high.  In Nazi Germany, it'd probably cost you your life.  In America, it will often cost you your freedom.  I've thought a lot about Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and the like.  Whether or not you agree with them, these men (one now a woman) risked a lot to shed light on things our own government was doing that most Americans didn't know about.  Some of the things, like the NSA mass surveillance of nearly all Americans, the government had even lied about under oath before Congress.  Their penalty for shedding light on our government's secrets?  One is sentenced to jail for 35 years, and the other probably would be if he hadn't stayed in Russia.

In my eyes, both are heroes. They stood up to evil when they saw it.  How many other employees at the NSA just went along with violating Americans' constitutional rights because they were "following orders?"  Manning and Snowden cared more about what was right, and cared more about their country than any of the others who did something wrong, or unethical under the guise of "doing their duty."  They are heroes, and America needs more like them.


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