I’ve been reading a lot about World War II lately. It started as research for a short story (the “Oh, I’ll check out a couple websites and then fudge anything I don’t know” type of research), but quickly snowballed beyond that. I don’t even know how many hours I’ve spent with my nose buried in these books or scouring websites. It’s kind of funny, in that I always knew World War II happened (I mean, I did graduate from fifth grade after all), but there’s a difference between knowing something happened and knowing what happened.
And then there’s knowing who happened. I’ve always known the biggie names of course–Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt–but there were millions and millions of other people who lived, fought, and died between 1939 and 1945 (I’m not talking about those who died in the Holocaust, but just the soldiers and citizens of nations whose leaders declared war on each other) It’s one of those things that’s in the back of your head, but you don’t actually think about. At least, I didn’t.
One of the results of all this reading has been the discovery of new heroes. There are people whose names I’d never heard, without whom we might well be living in Nazi-America right now (or in my case, since I’m black, not living). There are people whose names I’d never heard who saved tens and hundreds and thousands of lives, by putting their own on the line day after day. And there are even more people whose names I shall never know, who won the war simply by living one day at a time, accepting rationing, bombing, shortages, loss, fear, and death without buckling and giving up hope.
I think, “If these brave souls could be stalwart and unmoving in the face of ‘massacres, miseries and privations of war’, if my people could risk death and worse by defying the Nazi regime in their own country by aiding the Allied forces, shouldn’t I be unafraid to stand when the worst danger isn’t bullets and concentration camps but simply embarrassment or my own fear?”
One of my new heroes, a Swedish diplomat named Raoul Wallenberg who saved tens of thousands of lives, was once asked how he found the strength to work unceasingly for close to twenty hours a day. He said it was because if he worked hard, people lived. If he was lazy, people died. It was as simple as that.
I was struck when I read that. Because it’s true of Christians like myself as well. If we work, if we obey, people live. And when we don’t obey the Great Commission, people die. So let us be people of action, people of stalwart hearts, people with the strength to look evil in the eye and tell it that it will not overwhelm us.
Namarie from the Tale-Weaver.