“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” ~ Pastor Martin Niemöller
Romantics and poets have often identified, “I love you,” as the three greatest words in the English language. I take no issue with this claim; surely they're not uttered nearly enough. Yet, I find it curious that people rarely, if ever, discuss the most harmful three word phrase in the English language, “not my problem.”
A driver is broken down along the shoulder of the freeway, and we zoom on by. Not my problem.
The teen next door walks slumped from his house, obviously depressed. We wave and go about our business. Not my problem.
A week later, that teen took a rifle to a school, or a mall, or a place of worship and multiple innocents end up dead.
Last weekend, many Americans watched with a feeling of helplessness as, now nine fingered, Rabbi Goldstein mourned the loss of his friend and parishioner, Lori Gilbert Kaye at the hands of a hate filled 19 year old who attacked Goldstein’s synagogue on the l day of Passover.
I know nothing about the teenage attacker, not even his name. Nevertheless, I’d bet good money he wasn’t born wanting to kill Jews. Something happened to confuse and/or depress this young man, and when nobody acknowledged the warning signs, because it wasn’t their problem, he latched on to hate.
None of us can fix the world’s problems single handedly. Yet, if we each pay attention, and pause long enough to care, we can improve our own little corner of the world. If everyone cared enough to improve their own microcosm, then hate and killing would be a rarity rather than the norm.