Sophie Scholl was a German student and revolutionary, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans on February 18,1943. As a result, they were both executed by guillotine on February 22, 1943.
Her final words: “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause?”
I’ve been thinking a lot about Sophie’s life and how willing she was to stand against the evil taking place in her own country, even up to the point of her own death. She serves as a reminder that we are not obligated to the status quo, to think and do things simply because almost everyone else is. But she also serves as a reminder that the status quo does not like to be challenged, and resisting it comes at a cost.
It seems, as I scroll through my social media feeds, we have become obsessed with the concept of change. I say the concept of change because many people are talking about change, and looking to public figures to effect change. We say we want change, but we often want someone else to make it, and we certainly want someone else to shoulder the cost.
I wonder how many of us are actually willing to look at our own lives and do anything differently that would effect change in our own lives and the lives of the people around us. I wonder if it’s because we don’t feel empowered to stand up and do things differently as individuals, or if it’s because we’re complacent, or if we’re just lazy.
This year, I’ve had to ask myself this (and I challenge you to ask it of yourself): “If I want change, am I willing to do things differently? And if I do things differently, am I willing to absorb the cost?”
Voting is important. It’s one of the ways we are privileged to effect change here in the United States. But. It’s only one way. The best, most effective changes are made close to home: the ones that come from our hearts, that change our lives, our families, our communities, our jobs, our churches. The ones where we decide it doesn’t matter what anybody else is doing, this – this is how we will live our lives.
And if we’re being honest, those are not hard decisions to make here in the United States. We are not likely to be killed, tortured, or imprisoned for thinking or doing things differently. At most, we might be criticized and lose friends. A time may come when that’s not the case, a time when rising up against a tide of evil for what we know is right will cost us more and more and more.
So it’s important that now, while we are still free to choose with relative comfort, to get out of the habit of thinking and doing anything because we think everyone else is doing it, and get into the habit of thinking and doing what we know to be right, regardless of the cost. We must get away from the idea that change is big and always at a grand level, when often it is behavior by behavior at the individual level.
If we want to see more generosity, let us be more generous.
If we want to see more accountability, let us make ourselves accountable.
If we want to see a better work ethic in this generation, let us work harder, and for things that matter.
If we want to see a healthier environment and economy, let our personal decisions reflect that desire.
But let’s abandon the idea that change is up to everyone else. Because it’s not. It’s up to us.
How will YOU burn?