In Kansas these days, there’s a lot of resignation.
Our tax system has been denounced from all corners as the worst in the nation.
Our Attorney General has requested more than $1 million in supplemental appropriations to finance the defense of the unconstitutional bills (opting out of federal gun laws, anyone?) passed by the legislature last session.
I have heard more than a few times in the past few months:
“What’s the use?”
And, you know, I get it.
We have really important work to do, helping kids get ready for kindergarten and seniors find housing and parents get back to work.
If advocacy increasingly feels like yelling into the wind, maybe it’s a waste of our (very) precious time.
Until I read Auschwitz: A New History this summer and figured out that we have a lot to learn about seemingly-hopeless situations and how they aren’t, after all, so hopeless.
The book included several examples (see, for example, p. 139) of when Nazis were vulnerable to public protest, which begs the question: if more people and more governments had protested deportations and decried cruel treatment of Jews, what would have happened?
What are we missing out on, because we have convinced ourselves that it’s foolish to even try?
The book also relates stories of those who protested their own role in the killing but were seldom punished, reminding us that we often exaggerate the negative consequences for ourselves and minimize the likelihood of our advocacy success.
Again, if those lessons are true even in one of the darkest periods in all of human history, surely it’s true today, when what we’re dealing with is a failed economic policy and zealously ideological policymakers.
Righting wrongs is always, always worth a try.
And even yelling into the wind is better than nothing.
If it’s true in the shadow of Auschwitz, it’s true everywhere.