Don't be a bystander

Essay by Felicia Pelaez

Have you ever been a victim? Have you ever been an oppressor? What about a bystander? Yehuda Bauer, A Jewish historian speaks of being a victim and an oppressor, but speaks of being the worst thing possible, a bystander. "Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be an oppressor. But thou shalt never be a bystander."

First of all, To be a victim is wrong. To be an oppressor is also wrong. But to be a bystander is by far the worst thing to be because it makes matters worst. In Eve Bunting's poem 'The Terrible Things', the Terrible Things came looking for a specific animal to take. The Terrible Things repeatedly took animals and White Rabbit did not speak up. When the Terrible Things came to take animals with white fur, White Rabbit had no choice but to leave with the terrible things because there was no one left to speak up for him. The Terrible Things came over and over again and White Rabbit didn't warn the other animals, therefore we was being a bystander, he was being the worst thing possible and made everything worst because in the end there were no more animals left to help him.

Second of all, Even if you are nothing like others, it is wrong to be a bystander towards them. For example, in 'First they came for the Communists' poem by Martin Niemoller states "First they came for the Communists and I did not speak up because I wasn't a Communist." This person is clearly saying that he/she does not care too much for Communists because he/she is simply not a Communist. First they came for the Communists, and this person did not speak up because this person isn't a communist. Then they came for the Jew, and this person did not speak up because this person is not a Jew. Then they came for Protestants, and by that time there was no one left to help this person. If they come for Communist, and you are not a Communist, you still have the power to speak up and if you don't, in the end, when the come for you, there will be nobody left to help.

Next, being the opposite of a bystander can help with many situations. Madame Harkness, a woman who's family joined the French resistance to help Jews during the holocaust. Madame Harkness's family became involved with an organization which helped saved many lives. Her family were not being bystanders, they were the opposite of bystanders, meaning standing up to make issues better. Standing up takes a lot of courage and Madame Harkness's family must have had a lot of courage because her family did everything in their power to help lives whom were in danger.

It is wrong to be a victim and an oppressor but the worst thing to possibly be is a bystander. Witnessing something horrific happening and not acting upon it is terrible. Taking action will help many situations. So act when you witness something you think might be wrong.

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