I do contribute money to causes I believe in: cancer research, public radio and television, animal rescue, religious institutions, other non–profit organizations.
Last night as I was watching the first episode of the five-part PBS series, “Women, War & Peace,” I found myself gasping with horror at violence committed against Bosnian women.
I was no spring chicken when that civil war was going on in Bosnia. I should have been horrified when it was happening, not a decade later when I watched it on a PBS special. And I expect as I watch the next four episodes, I’m going to wonder what rock I’ve lived under all these years.
Sometimes, when I think of World War II and what happened to European Jews, I conjure myself as a magnificent human being: one who would have stood up for my fellow man and woman; one who would have fought against those atrocities. I picture myself as one who would have hidden a Jewish family in my attic.
Though I was but a kid in the 60s when the Civil Rights movement was at its peak, I don’t remember it making a huge impact on my life. Did I stand up for a fellow black student who was being ill-treated? I don’t recall that ever happening, but I hope my sense of justice would have kicked in. Even then, I must have sheltered myself from the evil going on around me.
Though I sometimes think ill thoughts about my government, this PBS series is showing me that I am indeed lucky to live in America. But I don’t want to ignore what’s going on in the world around me. If I was a Christian in Bosnia, would I have rescued my neighbor who was a Muslim?
I do care very much about fair treatment of human beings. But as a person with no strong activist genes, I wonder what a non-marching, non-speech-making person can do to make the world a more peaceful and just place.
Terri Lackey is managing editor of Gather.