My initial reaction to Gov. LePage’s and Donald Trump’s anti-Syrian, anti-Muslim rhetoric was to dismiss them as outrageous responses from outrageous people rising out of fear and ignorance and a desire for popularity. However, too many people are agreeing. Too many people are replacing “Muslim” and “Syrian” for “terrorist, or “enemy.”

Adolph Hitler began as an outsider, as an outrageous figure who one might have thought could never succeed. Yet gradually, as the “good people” remained silent, and then acquiesced through fear of reprisal, Hitler and the Nazis came to power. Even the victims of punitive laws didn’t believe things would get worse, yet they did. I am thankful that there are people who are speaking out today, but are there enough?

My people were slaughtered in Hungary, save for those who were able to immigrate to the United States. At this time of Thanksgiving and winter cheer, I am grateful for my life, and for those who, with compassion and inner strength, work to protect and support all lives. My heart aches for the millions of refugees looking for a safe place and a purposeful life. My heart aches for the victims of violence reported and unreported, here and abroad.

A congregant of mine once asked me how anyone could sleep knowing that there was so much violence going on in the world?

That’s what we do. We are outraged, and then we sit down to dinner, watch some TV and go to sleep.

It’s time to rouse ourselves, join together, and rather than fear the stranger, get to know him or her.

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