Pacific Tides
My name is Thomas Sturm and I'm a programmer, photographer and writer.

Now go outside and look at the sky.

Some Food For Thought

First they came for the Communists,

and I didn't speak up,

because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn't speak up,

because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I didn't speak up,

because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,

and there was no one left

to speak up for me.

Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

I have been told that my rants on this site are needlessly harsh, that I am too critical of the country where I choose to live and where I pay my taxes, thereby underwriting the actions of the United States with my own money.

Let me explain.

I was born and grew up in Dachau where a concentration camp had been located during the second world war. The camp is nowadays a large memorial for the tens of thousands of prisoners who have died there and ultimately for the millions of victims of the Nazi regime.

I grew up with the camp never being more than a short bike ride away, a strange, nightmarish site for a child. My parents always explained its existence in the simple terms one uses to explain uncomfortable truths to children, but never hiding its existence or function from me. Then during school we visited probably about half a dozen times at different stages of our education, slowly adding to the panorama of human blight and inhuman violence in my mind.

At some point, maybe when I was around thirteen years old on a school trip, I stumbled over the words of Martin Niemoller in the museum of the Dachau concentration camp.

These words are so simple, yet so powerful and in their conclusion so terrorizing to me.

These words encapsulate two of the basic human instincts, fear and relief, and I can not think of a simpler explanation of why something like the concentration camp in Dachau is at all possible. Fear of being caught in a gruesome machinery and relief when the worst happens to somebody else.

Too many people in Germany were too quiet for too long, always hoping that the storm will pass, that the worst will not happen to them. Ultimately the silence of the majority enabled the Nazis to manouver the country past the point of no return, when everybody who had stayed silent became a co-conspirator.

And as we see now, humans haven't changed that much.

What happened to the Germans can happen anywhere, anytime. All it takes is a country in the grip of fear and terror with a lethargic, misinformed population, guided by a small group of people who are willing to leave all laws and human decency behind.

Suddenly here they are again, the four horsemen of the downfall of civilizations: Spying on the population. Restriction of speech. Secret prisons. Torture.

Now I'm not saying that the US will end like Germany. History does not run in circles. But what I see here in the United States at the end of 2005 is a country where a group of unscrupolous leaders has decided that the laws that bind all citizens do not apply to them.

These leaders have shown a deep disrespect for the US constitution and basic human rights and have taken it upon themselves to decide the fates of human beings without the guidance of laws or the oversight by Congress and the Judiciary.

These are the beginnings of fascism and dictatorship.

No good can come from any enterprise along this path.

And I'll be damned if I won't speak up.

© 1998 - 2024 Thomas Sturm