“The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid dens of crime that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps or labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and seconded, moved and minuted in well lighted offices by quiet men with white collars and neatly cut finger nails, and with smooth shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.” – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
New Lisbon, WI – In 1853 Herman Melville published a new and now almost forgotten story, Bartleby, the Scrivener. Bartleby is a sort of human photocopier, taking dictations of the constant reams of documents coming out of an attorney’s office. However, occasionally Bartleby would occasionally say “I would prefer not to” when asked to do a task. At first they try to reason with him, he would not listen. Saying simply “I would prefer not to.” Then they fired him, he prefers not leave. He is arrested and taken to prison, but he prefers not to eat, and he starves to death. Melville’s message was simply that no one can make anyone do anything.
In the time when slavery was still legal in America, only a few slaves ran away, rather, the most common form of protest to this indignity on human rights was simple, silent protest. Tools were dropped, workers worked slowly, or refused to work at all, the plantation owner could not afford to shoot or sell all of them.
Evil often wins when it shouts, but it wins more often when it whispers. Just because evil makes a demand does not mean we must concede. There is time to shout and hold up banners, but there are also times for the silent protests, the protests that simply refuse to obey tyranny or to bear indignity. The enemy’s only weapon in the end is fear, but if they find a nation that they cannot inspire fear in, they will have to leave it alone, because they will be helpless to subdue it. They can only kill so many thousands, and yes, we may be of those thousands that may have to die, but if we are right then we must not we cannot yield an inch. Liberty and Justice is like a mighty dyke, holding back a torrent of injustice, of cruelty, of war, of suffering. For that dyke to give way an inch to lose all, for dikes cannot move, and if they try they will fall, and with them will fall all that rests behind them. Rather let us stand strong, so that our children can rest on the dry plains of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I close with a quote from Ronald Reagan’s speech “Evil Empire”:
“At the same time however, they must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards. We will never give away our freedom. We will never abandon our belief in God.”
Andrew C. Abbott