(Minghui.org) The famous poem by Martin Niemoeller at the Holocaust Memorial in Boston reads,
THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. THEN THEY CAME for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.
It is a reminder that one must speak up for justice and that there is no “neutrality” between good and evil.
Three hundred and sixty years ago in China, Kangxi, the greatest emperor of the Qing Dynasty, took the throne at the age of six after his father's death.
Because of his young age, his government was administrated by four advisers from the preceding reign: Sonin, Suksaha, Ebilun, and Oboi. After Sonin died, Oboi put Suksaha to death for an alleged crime, leaving the emperor with only two advisers. Oboi placed his own people in important positions and silenced anyone who tried to oppose him. Ebilun, however, turned a blind eye to Oboi's behavior.
When the Kangxi Emperor began attending to the affairs of state at the age of 13, he bestowed various titles to Ebilun, giving him more status than Oboi in an effort to offset Oboi's power. But Ebilun always tried to be neutral between the emperor and Oboi. He never admonished Oboi in front of the emperor, nor did he try to stop Oboi. At times, he even went along with Oboi.
Finally, the 15-year-old emperor arrested Oboi in a coup. He also arrested Ebilun.
Kangxi believed that Ebilun had made matters worse by staying silent when he knew Oboi had killed many ministers and tried to exert his power over the emperor. Ebilun died a year later.
The moral of the story is that staying neutral or indifferent does not necessarily keep one safe.
During World War II, countries like Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands all declared neutrality, but the German army nevertheless invaded them; similarly, the United State's initial neutrality did not stop Japan from attacking Pearl Harbor.
On October 28, 2018, a bus plunged into the Yangzi river in Chongqing City of China. Fifteen people, including the driver and passengers, died in the accident. The cause of the accident was that a passenger missed her stop and demanded the driver to stop the bus to let her off. The driver refused because there was no immediate bus stop. A heated argument led to a physical altercation; the driver lost control and the bus fell into the river.
The investigation, however, showed that during the five-minute conflict between the passenger and the driver, no one else on the bus tried to intervene. They watched the destructive acts in silence and allowed the tragedy to take place.
Famous political thinker Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “banality of evil” to describe how Adolf Eichmann, a key bureaucratic functionary of the Nazi party, carried out his technocratic duties without questioning their purpose. Eichmann was one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. He was responsible for facilitating and managing the logistics involved in the mass deportation of Jews to extermination camps during World War II.
During his trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Eichmann repeatedly claimed that he had no choice but to follow orders and that the decisions had been made not by him, but by his superiors. However, he was still found guilty of war crimes and executed by hanging.
Arendt observed the trial and commented on Eichmann's ordinariness in appearance and disposition. She thus suggested that evil can be extraordinary acts committed by otherwise unremarkable people. When people simply obey or maintain “neutrality” under a totalitarian regime without thinking, they become part of the system, they accept the immoral behaviors of the system, and they become the banality of evil, just as Eichmann did. Even when their conscience is disturbed by the system, they rely on the recognition and doctrine of the system to defend themselves, thereby dispelling any personal guilt.
Unfortunately, after 70 years of communist rule in China, traditional Chinese culture and ethical beliefs have been replaced by atheism and the Communist Party's doctrines of class struggle, violence, and deceit. Out of self-protection, many people in today's China choose to stay silent when it comes to the suffering of others. Some have even become the banality of evil as Eichmann did.
In July 2006, David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, and David Matas, Canadian human rights lawyer, released an investigative report that concluded, “...the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centers and ‘people's courts,’ since 1999, have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas, were virtually simultaneously seized for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.”
The report refers to the crime committed by the Chinese regime as “a form of evil yet to be seen on this planet.”
It also stated that patients from nearly 20 countries and regions went to China for organ transplants because of the short wait time (from one week to three months). Yet many world leaders and media organizations, due to the Chinese Communist Party’s political and economic clout, have kept silent. “For far too many people around the world, it’s just been politically and economically convenient to go along,” said David Matas in an interview with Minghui.org.
However, when people become indifferent about immoral or destructive behaviors under the semblance of “neutrality,” the result is that no one is safe. Matas believes that the current pandemic is the consequence of turning a blind eye to China's human rights abuses.
He said, “If the rest of the world had been more aggressive in combating all this misrepresentation and cover-up and denial and counterfactual narrative in dealing with organ transplant abuse; if the global system had insisted on transparency and accountability in dealing with organ transplant abuse; and if China had [faced] global pressure for transparency and accountability in its health system in dealing with organ transplant abuse, we wouldn't have this coronavirus now. And we are suffering the consequences now of turning a blind eye to organ transplant abuse.”
What can one do to avoid such a tragedy? We have to speak up for justice and choose not to be neutral between good and evil.
Wuhan resident Tu Long said in an interview with Voice of America that the coronavirus pandemic had changed his desire to be an obedient citizen. “If it wasn't because some oversea friends told me the truth [about the pandemic,] I might have been dead by now,” he said.
Reflecting on himself during the lockdown of Wuhan, he said:
"When they expelled the migrant workers in Beijing, I said to myself, 'I’ve worked very hard, I’m not a migrant, I will not be expelled.'
"When they built the concentration camps in Xinjiang [for Muslim Uighurs], I thought, 'I’m not an ethnic minority, I don't have any religious beliefs, I will not be in trouble.'
"I sympathize with the suffering of the people in Hong Kong, but I thought, 'I will not go out and protest [for democracy]--it has nothing to do with me.'
"This time it hit my hometown. Many people I know have gotten sick, and some have died—I can’t stand it any longer."
Oftentimes, people only wake up when their own lives are in imminent danger, and the current pandemic indeed seems to have awakened many to begin to see the CCP for what it truly is. Between good and evil, there is no “neutrality.”