Backed by the power of State

You and I would’ve been Nazis. We’d of been participants in the oppression and attempted extermination of the Jews. We would have contributed to the suffocation of free speech, and we would have done nothing to stop the perpetuation of tyranny and terror that went hand in hand with the rise of the Third Reich.

This isn’t a condemnation of you or I. It’s a simple statement of fact. If we were able to, one, take a census of all those present in Germany during the thirties and early forties, and two, note whether or not they took direct action against the regime, I’m certain we’d discover that only a handful of people did anything that could be classified as active resistance. I’m not talking about “disagreeing” with what happened—it’s easy to silently condemn, to whisper discontent and disgust to friends and family. I’m talking about deeds, not words. Words come easily and cost little; deeds are hard and can cost you your life, especially when they directly oppose the totalitarian government in power. If you don’t believe me, place yourself in this scenario:

You work at an environmental standards agency, and whilst running an errand for the boss you discover something. You come across evidence that your boss, and the other directors of the agency, are allowing countless companies to get away with terrible pollution, providing they offer a sufficiently lucrative bribe. Worse, these companies aren’t just polluting. They’re dumping chemicals in local water supplies, causing the surrounding area and its populace to be infected.

In a country like the U.S. or the U.K., you’d probably report the directors and the companies flouting the standards and issuing bribes. You might go through a union, or contact a special unit set up explicitly for whistle-blowing, just to protect yourself and your family. Nevertheless, taking action would be straightforward because you know you’d have the systems of government and the apparatus of law, order and justice standing behind you. But what if you didn’t? What if there were no special vehicles through which to report illicit activity? What if exposing the directors would undoubtedly result in an escalating series of intimidation and abuse for you and your family members, a series of attacks designed purely to persuade you to discontinue and forget what you found? And what if the government and system of justice couldn’t be trusted? How would you act if you knew that, solely because you saw something you shouldn’t have, an armed group could come to your home, take you and your family away, and make you disappear? Would you still shout about what you saw? Would you still fight when you knew you were going up against the immense, endless power of the State? Would you stand up for what you believe in if you knew that doing so would result in your kids being tortured, your wife being raped and murdered, and yourself being forced to watch these things occur?

You may think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. These are the stakes and this is reality in a tyrannical, bloodthirsty regime. So I ask you again, and I ask myself, would you stand and fight for what you believe in if the cost of doing so was beyond the borders of your imagination?