Acts of conscience and resistance

We need to find examples of humanity amidst suffering.

We need them.

That’s why I love the story, related in The Forger, about Christians who put their identity passes in the offering plates at church in Nazi Germany, which forgers then turned into lifesaving documents for Jews targeted for deportations (p. 98).

What I find so compelling about this particular story of resistance and acts of conscience, though, is how ordinary it is.

It illustrates what I believe is a critical point about these opportunities to exert moral courage:

We seldom have as much to lose as others have to gain.

Especially when we are willing to leverage our relative power–that afforded by our education, perhaps, or our social class, or even our race–we can often stand up with those threatened with comparably little at stake.

It makes all the more indefensible the many, many occasions when we fail to exercise even this limited risk, when we fail to look for opportunities to resist.

Last week, when I raised the uncomfortable issue of inequities in school finance among neighboring counties–a sensitive issue in my privileged district and one that usually doesn’t go over well with my peers–I thought of those identity passes in the collection plates.

Not flashy or particularly daring, but principled and, ultimately, collectively, huge.

What are your acts of conscience and resistance? How do you measure them, sustain them, multiply them?

How do they define you?

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