To avoid the falsehoods that are made in the name of patriotism, it is most educational for us to read the biographies of the siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl. The fact that their names and their organization, the White Rose, are little known comes down to the infinite usefulness of ignorance. To summarize briefly, both were executed during the Nazi dictatorship in Germany for opposing the government. They had been on the war front, they had served as obedient young people in the patriotic mobilization, but they soon got wise to the government’s mass deception and denounced it with pamphlets and graffiti in student circles. Their trial was quick and brief. The Nazi regime thought of the siblings as a cancer that could spread through the thinking strata of the country, and decided that putting an end to them and their sound, spiritual and decent ideas required a surgical solution. When people in Germany insisted that they had not known about the atrocities being committed against the Jews, Roma and political enemies until after the war ended, the Scholls were there, as martyrs, to denounce such imposture. At the beginning of 1943 they were executed without recourse or the possibility of defense.
Inner resistance — as many other examples throughout history have shown — is a citizen’s only recipe to fight their own monsters. Because outsiders are easy to gauge. The enemy is always beyond the borders, it is different, it practices another religion and speaks another language. It is much more difficult to face your own enemy, because you share with it a culture, a landscape, a language, a destiny. It is precisely because you share a destiny with someone you consider indecent that you are forced to mobilize. At this point in the conflict between Israel and Gaza, the original questions have been defused, but they are the relevant. What were the Hamas terrorists looking for with their brutal and inhumane attack against Israel in the border communities, home to many citizens who supported the Palestinians? Did they not expect that a deadly response with thousands of innocent lives sacrificed would give them back the heritage of the discourse of blood and terror? Aren’t victims, in some way, the most useful resource of misguided and savage leaders?
Just as pertinently, the Israeli response follows the agenda of a burned-out prime minister without prestige, someone who has managed to impose his destiny on that of an entire country. And resistance will have to come from within in both cases, from the voices of those who, with loyalty to their own, remind them that they are wrong. That they have chosen the easiest of reactions, the one that only finds grievances in the enemy. The rest of the world remains paralyzed and distressed, trying to save dignity and the remains of a self-conscious and inert friendship. That’s why, the inner strength of dissidence, of resistance, of opposition, is once again the only hope.
We find ourselves at a global crossroads in which violence has been reinvented as an easy solution. The supreme ignorance of citizens has led to this cruel and atavistic result. It has been a very profitable de-educational exercise. It is the heir of the same ignorance that condemned the Scholl siblings and so many others inner resisters to oblivion. For these people who took a stand, who resisted, it is important to recognize that thing of little prestige that we call conscious: the knowledge of oneself.
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