This morning (Aug. 29, 2013) I searched through old documents that I hadn’t read for many years. I didn’t find the one I needed but I did happen across a forgotten email I wrote on April 11, 1999. I reprint it here exactly as I wrote it 14 years ago. It was just an email, not a polished piece by any means. Why is this relevant now? Because it could easily be a lament for the suffering people of the nation of Sy… and because nothing has changed. The word gypsy that I used 14 years ago is now anachronistic and rightfully so. I wanted my old email to appear exactly as it was back then.
Subject: Thoughts While Waiting for the Ballgame
Date: April 11, 1999
Last night I watched the ABC Evening News to pass a few minutes. I was channel surfing while eagerly waiting for the Atlanta Braves game to start.
I watched a three minute story about an elderly Albanian couple who live on a meager pension in a tiny three-room apartment. They’re Christians who took three families of Albanian Muslim refugees into their home. Three families of women and children. Three families whose husbands, sons, and brothers have been “cleansed” by implacable troops of devils. In halting English, the old man told the reporter “I took these people into my home because they are my blood. If I don’t take them in and feed them, who will do it?”
That made me think about my own blood ancestors, the European Jews. I thought about the multitudes of people who took the Jews in during the Holocaust. So many Christians and members of other faiths acknowledged Jewish suffering, exile, and imprisonment. They felt moved to shelter them. So many nations went to war to protect the Jews from atrocities. Jewish torment and annihilation was public every night on the news because so many people cared about them and wanted to help.
Except that it didn’t happen that way.
Virtually no Christians acknowledged their common humanity with the Jews in those days. No nation went to war on their behalf. No one publicized their annihilation. Nations offered countless reasons to go to war but protection of the Jews was not a whisper among those reasons.
Many, like the Bosnian Christians and Muslims cursed the Jews, blamed them for their miseries, stole their possessions, and raped their women. They eagerly turned them in to the implacable troops from Hell when they marched in.
In addition, there are no records of people crying out en masse, “You cannot imprison or exile the Gypsies because they are my brothers and sisters. But if you must cleanse the land of them, I will take them in.”
In the immediate past, no nation or coalition of allies righteously rose up to protect slaughtered victims of civil wars in Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, or Rwanda. The starving or dead became brief sound bytes on the evening news. So many people shook their heads for a moment. They watched those nightmarish scenes for almost 90 seconds. Then, for the next two minutes they watched vital announcements about weed killers, mascara, hamburgers, and soft drinks with just one calorie as they waited impatiently to hear college basketball scores.
It is probably too banal or obvious to wonder about Kuwait and the price of gasoline.
Did any nation rise up to go to war to defend the oppressed Chinese minority of Vietnam? Nations offered many reasons to go to war but protection of oppressed minorities was not even a whisper among them.
No nation stood up for the Tibetans or Mongolians when the Chinese conquered and absorbed them.
I don’t remember learning about any nation that went to war to protect or defend slaughtered Okinawans, Koreans, or Philippines. No nation considered that a reason to go to war with Japan. Nations offered many reasons but protection of ethnic minorities wasn’t even a whisper among them.
Before that, no nation went to war to protect the tens of millions of slaughtered Russian Kulaks, the entire peasant class of a huge nation. Many nations lusted for a reason to declare war on Russia but protection of oppressed minorities wasn’t even a whisper among them.
Did any nation rise to protect India against British atrocities?
A century and a half ago, nobody stood up for the martyred Baha’is in Iran. How many said, “They are my brothers and sisters so if I don’t take them in, who will do it?” Who outside the worldwide Baha’i community stands up for them now? Many leaders eagerly pronounce reasons to go to war but protection of oppressed religious minorities is not a whisper among them.
I applauded the Christian Albanian couple I saw on the evening news last night because they are the rarest of all creatures on earth. They are human beings.
Then I switched the channel to the Braves game.
Cary Enoch R., Peach County, Georgia, April 11, 1999
Sept. 1, 2013, Looking back:
To be perfectly clear on why I posted that old email message; it was not in support of any warlike actions or “interventions” on the part of any nation against the people of another nation. In the future there will be legitimate ways of handling atrocities, aggressive actions, and massive injustices. For far too long we’ve witnessed a world civilization spinning wildly towards chaos and collapse. The last thing the world needs is more bombs. Nobody ever expressed it better than Baha’ullah did when he wrote: “We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned.”
Here’s the entire quote:
“The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.
“We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.
“Incline your ears to the sweet melody of this Prisoner. Arise, and lift up your voices, that haply they that are fast asleep may be awakened. Say: O ye who are as dead! The Hand of Divine bounty proffereth unto you the Water of Life. Hasten and drink your fill. Whoso hath been re-born in this Day, shall never die; whoso remaineth dead, shall never live.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)