Hitler didn't care.
He didn't care whether you were Jewish, Gypsy, gay, communist, disabled or Jehovah Witness.
Neither did the gas discriminate.
 
and now that I have your attention,
I will start my poem from the beginning.
It's called
 
Train on a Long Track
 
Many have driven this train…
Moses and Miriam fleeing from Egypt,
Jesus and Mohammed fighting for the poor and down-trodden
Queen Nzinga leading her African armies
Gandhi for independence, unity and non-violence
Nat Turner, Harriett Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth,
Martin Luther King Jr.
and Harvey Milk.
 
Many more with names unsung and forgotten,
steered this train full of hundreds, then thousands, then millions
who volunteered to ride
this determined beast of steel
as it rumbled
sometimes swift and sometimes slowly
down the track.
 
In its cars,
riders squabble
over which route is best
and even,
where we should be headed…
over whose turn it is to sit in the front car
and who has suffered enough to earn that right.
The arguments are long and loud and seem to last forever,
pausing only for the silent treatment
of separation and division.
But when the train hits a wall, hard, BAM!!!
There is no more time for squabbling;
no room for division.
We are all suffering
and we had better unite
or die.
 
There are times like these.
They come and go.
Centuries of slave-trade and human bondage
Centuries of women and gay men burned on stakes
Genocide of Native Americans, Africans, Armenians, Jews, Bengalis, Cambodians, Hutus & Tutsis, Kurds, Bosniaks and Croats, Sudanese, and the Syrians of today and tomorrow.
 
Times like these
when human progress hits a wall and
the backlash against human rights, freedom, equality,
democracy, compassion and humanity
is long and fierce and merciless….
 
times that test us sorely…
 
times when we must put aside
both big and petty squabbles…
 
when we must abandon our comfortable bubbles
of separatist beliefs and refused connections
 
times when we must see the bigger picture
 
times when we must come together…
or die.
 
Hitler didn't care
He didn't care if you were Jewish, gay or Gypsy,
communist or Jehovah Witness.
He didn't care about our petty
or not-so-petty
squabbles.
You didn't get a free pass if you were an anti-communist Jew or an anti-gay Communist or an anti-Semitic Gypsy.  He didn't care about religious or political differences.  His dream was to get rid of us all.  His followers were ready by the millions. 
Sound familiar?
 
Despite the danger, people resisted.
People gave their lives in Germany and France, Cambodia and Bangladesh, in South Africa and in the United States, and in Syria today,
to keep this train operative
even when derailed
even when pushed back.
 
 
This is when we must be at our strongest;
when we must not despair;
when we dare not abandon the train.
 
This is when we must cling to our fellow passengers
whatever their color, their gender, their religion, their personality
or the details of their ideology.
When the train has hit a wall,
our differences don't matter.
Who's first on the stalled train doesn't matter.
Articulating and demanding allegiance to each and every detail of our individual hopes and dreams may have to wait.
Surviving the nightmare matters.
 
And we can do that.
Many have done it before.
It takes strength and courage and hope and love.
It takes coming together with folks you used to despise.
It takes seeing the bigger picture and never giving up.
 
It takes two words that keep reverberating through my brain again and again.
Two words that we must live by
at least until we break through the wall
and begin moving forward again…
 
Two words:
 
Unite and Resist!
 

 
 


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