Sometimes I wonder why I take the time to write.
While I enjoy writing, it doesn’t seem to be changing or transforming the world. In fact, “the pen is mightier than the sword” seems a bit lost when we are inundated with words upon words. Blogging seems ridiculous in a cyber world overflowing with anyone and everyone’s thoughts and opinions. Amidst the suffering and tragedies occurring daily, why do I post my thoughts, experiences, and reflections? Why add one more little voice to the cacophony?
The other day, I stumbled upon a name that I knew little about yet was not entirely unknown to me. Sophie Scholl. Curious, I found a website with a story about the White Rose Resistance and the role of Sophie Scholl. In a few moments, I felt as if I had discovered the reason I stumbled upon this article.
One day in 1942, copies of a leaflet entitled “The White Rose” suddenly appeared at the University of Munich. The leaflet contained an anonymous essay that said that the Nazi system had slowly imprisoned the German people and was now destroying them. The Nazi regime had turned evil. It was time, the essay said, for Germans to rise up and resist the tyranny of their own government. At the bottom of the essay, the following request appeared: “Please make as many copies of this leaflet as you can and distribute them.”
The leaflet caused a tremendous stir among the student body. It was the first time that internal dissent against the Nazi regime had surfaced in Germany. The essay had been secretly written and distributed by Hans Scholl and his friends.
Holocaust Resistance: The White Rose – A Lesson in Dissent, Jacob G. Hornberger
This young Sophie Scholl along with her brother and friends built a resistance through writing. Speaking out against the Nazi regime was a sufficient reason to be executed by the state. What was the reason they used mere words to fight Hitler? Sophie told the courtroom during the “trial.”
Sophie Scholl shocked everyone in the courtroom when she remarked to [Judge] Freisler: “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare to express themselves as we did.”
Speaking the truth in a world filled with lies is a courageous undertaking. The truth has a power to stir and ignite people. It is a bold, troublesome thing that inflames hearts, encouraging them to risk all for the pursuit of truth. Not everyone is courageous enough to speak this truth. It makes others uncomfortable and it often costs us something. I’ve had more than one occasion where questions in the classroom resulted in uncomfortable sessions of truth-telling. When students ask questions about divorce, contraception, homosexuality, mortal sins, and so on, I try to tread lightly, but truthfully, as I attempt to explain the wisdom of the Church.
The young Sophie Scholl died at twenty-one but knew that her actions would bear great fruit. Despite that belief, she did not pull back when sacrifice was presented to her in the form of a premature death. To suffer for the truth is something I hope I would be capable of doing. Before executed by the state, Sophie Scholl met with her parents one last time.
Sophie Scholl looked at her parents and was strong in her pride and certainty. “We took everything upon ourselves,” she said. “What we did will cause waves.” Her mother spoke again: “Sophie,” she said softly, “Remember Jesus.” “Yes,” replied Sophie earnestly, almost commandingly, “but you, too.”
The revolution Sophie helped ignite was a non-violent resistance that was waged with the power of the word. This reality, that battles can be fought with the tip of my tongue or the keys of my computer, helps me appreciate the influence words can have in this world. Letters assembled in a variety of ways can produce documents that inspire, encourage, and insist upon justice and the pursuit of truth. Think about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Or, in another way, the Declaration of Independence. Or Pope Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est. Or the pamphlets of the White Rose Resistance. Though they vary greatly, all entered the literary battlefield, one they lived as much as they wrote.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”
(John 1:1, 14)
Oddly, I have always desired to be on the battle field. Though quiet and reserved by nature, my heart desires a mission worthy of fighting for and a truth vital enough to boldly proclaim. I never joined the military and while I enjoy a good debate, I don’t appreciate confrontation. What I have are my words, spoken and written, to instruct, critique, compel, and propose truth for others.
The Lord spoke the world into existence. With a word, Jesus forgave sins and made dead men rise and blind men see. As we are made in God’s image and likeness, our words also have a power. Like Hans and Sophie Scholl, along with their companions, I desire to use my words for a greater good. I want what I write to “cause waves” as people consider the Gospel in a new light and approach the freedom of Christ from a new perspective.