Reflecting on 2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14
Eighty years later, Hitler is STILL the number one best-selling topic in book sales. I admit I can never get enough of the horrible Nazis. Immersing myself in the lives of those who died in the camps fills me with a bone-deep gratitude for my warm house, with warm food, and my warm spouse, who is here with me instead of parachuting behind enemy lines somewhere in Europe, 1943.
“It is better to do evil than to BE evil,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, explaining why he, a beloved Lutheran minister, could take part in an assassination attempt. He could justify doing wrong for the greater good of ridding the world of Hitler, but, conversely, would NOT justify doing wrong—saluting, or taking an oath of fidelity to the Reich—for the “greater good” of keeping his church open during the war.
I’ll bet that, during the first religious persecution in history, people urged the Maccabee brothers and their mother to just go along to get along. Eat their stupid pork, they begged. Try not to notice there is a statue of the emperor on the altar in the Temple, they pleaded. But the Maccabees wouldn’t accommodate, and so they died horrible deaths.
There are many things today we are expected to “accommodate” in order not to rock the boat. I have some friends who will endure listening to racism and ignorance in order to keep the conversation “pleasant” at Thanksgiving dinner. I have other friends for whom the pro-choice position of some family members makes holding their tongues impossibly painful.
I’m inspired by the martyrs. Year after year, I choose not to be one. Please pass the gravy.
Have you ever endured the fallout from doing the right thing?
Kathy McGovern ©2019