We’ve all been told often that 9/11 changed everything. We’ve been told many things: that we are not safe, that we must make sacrifices, and we have had many things done in our name.
As a nation, we have enacted laws, gone to war, given up our freedom, and betrayed our principles. All that is necessary to stop this, to be the people we thought we were, is to set aside our fear of speaking up, for our leaders to set aside their fear.
With the nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, we have just such a moment when we all need to speak as one and reject this nominee. It is easy to do, yet takes courage to say no.
When such courage is needed, I take comfort and find strength in the words of Alan Paton. He wrote these words in Cry the Beloved Country. The book was set in a different time and a different place, but the struggle is the same.
I reprint these words here in the hope they will remind us what we are fighting and provide us strength and hope.
“There is not much talking now. A silence falls upon them all. This is no time to talk of hedges and fields, or the beauties of any country. Sadness and fear and hate, how they well up in the heart and mind, whenever one opens the pages of these messengers of doom. Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. The sun pours down on the earth, on the lovely land that man cannot enjoy. He knows only the fear of his heart.”
“We do not know, we do not know. We shall live from day to day, and put more locks on the doors, and get a fine fierce dog when the fine fierce bitch next door has pups, and hold on to our handbags more tenaciously; and the beauty of the trees by night, and the raptures of lovers under the stars, these things we shall forego. We shall forego the coming home drunken through the midnight streets, and the evening walk over the star-lit veld. We shall be careful, and knock this off our lives, and knock that off our lives, and hedge ourselves about with safety and precaution. And our lives will shrink, but they shall be the lives of superior beings; and we shall live with fear, but at least it will not be a fear of the unknown. And the conscience shall be thrust down; the light of life shall not be extinguished, but be put under a bushel, to be preserved for a generation that will live by it again, in some day not yet come; and how it will come, and when it will come, we shall not think about at all.”