Sure, I believe that we should love our neighbors, but trusting them with our safety and security is a whole ‘nother matter.
The History of Neighbors:
You may find it interesting to note that during the Hitler regime, the neighbors of the Jews and so-called “traitors” were the greatest asset to Hitler’s intelligence operations. Hitler used all manner of lies, propaganda, intimidation, and bullying to get regular, everyday citizens to betray their neighbors to the Reich for either being a Jew or being sympathetic towards the Jews. If a particular person were
to betray a significant number of their neighbors, then they would often be awarded additional food rations and other favors that irresistible to some during a time of famine, poverty, and chaos. As a result of the harshest of living conditions, many Germans would wrongfully accuse a neighbor of being a sympathizer simply so that the informant could put a meal on the table.
When the Soviets first occupied Lithuania in 1940, they did so under the deceptive position of liberation for the Lithuanian people. But some citizens did not fall for this guise and were wise to the true intents of the Soviets and the looming Nazi regime. These attentive patriots worked bravely and selflessly to escape the certain enslavement that was in store for their nation and were naturally motivated to likewise warn their neighbors of this pending demise. It’s important to note that the Soviets and the Third Reich did not tolerate lukewarm loyalty from any of their counterparts. The KGB (rightfully) believed that if a person was not vehemently supportive of the Soviet occupation, then such a person was a dissident and thus likely to compromise the strength of the Soviet plans for world power. As such, if neighbors were not regularly providing the identities of other persons as “resisters” to the Soviet regime, then they would find themselves cast with a hue of suspicion and be considered as a rebel sympathizer—subsequently tortured to death. It was primarily through this means of intelligence gathering, that by the end of the war the KGB (and later, the Nazi’s) killed nearly 96 percent of all Jews in Lithuania all because there would rarely stand a man who had the courage to trade their own life for freedom and friendship.
Today, in stark contrast to the charm and friendliness of the citizens in Vilnius, Lithuania, there is The Museum of Genocide Victims. This museum tells the all too familiar story of neighbors turning on neighbors—usually in the name of a false sense of morality or financial gain. In this case, hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians and Poles were brutally murdered for standing up to an evil and suppressive regime throughout many years. Ironically, this museum is established in the former KGB headquarters where tortured and murdered persons were represented coldly by a name and a location by the very people that they celebrated, prayed, and wept with.
(As an aside note, I also find it interesting that the Soviets felt so threatened by opposing points of views even though a sparse few of the resisters were armed with any type of weaponry. It was simply their beliefs that the Soviets felt were so dangerous to their evil objective.)
I don’t share this information with you to remind you of a horrible blemish on the history of humanity, rather to remind you that such circumstances are not apt to be isolated solely to history. Any stressful or catastrophic future event is just as likely to challenge the strands of decency we bear. As I’ve said time and time again, desperation and fear cause people to do unspeakable acts. Thus, in the interest of preparedness, I feel that it’s important that we recognize that the friends and neighbors with whom we share our preparedness efforts and plans must be chosen wisely and prayerfully; our lives may well depend upon it. I realize—of course—that when one catches the spirit of self-reliance and independence we desperately want to share such convictions with other persons we care about. There is certainly a strong case of wise stratagem in converting our own neighbors and friends to a state of preparedness for our own sakes. Those who are properly prepared are less likely to compromise our own reserves, right? However, we all must still prepare for “Plan B” in the event that the anticipated loyalty and bravery does not hold firm. As such, I encourage you to not be free flowing with specifics of the fruits of your self-reliant state or plans of relief until you are certain—spiritually and mentally—that such information will be held sacred by a brave soul.
Our Own Mental Fortitude:
While there is much to consider in this respect, “who can I trust?” I submit that there is an even more important question we ask ourselves while we have the peace and comfort to support such an exploration. “Who will I be under dire circumstances?”
I’m sure that I’m not the only person in the world today who’s ever been painfully betrayed by close friends. In fact I dare say that some of my escapades of such cutting experiences would be suitable for a compelling auto-biography. But I know that I’m in good company with exceptional men and women such as George Washington, Tecumseh, Grace O’ Malley, and of course Jesus Christ. I am not an exceptional recipient of these circumstances. But more importantly that what may be thrust upon us by the cowardice of others, I feel it’s vital that we ensure that we possess the appropriate amount of spiritual and mental preparedness to maintain a strength of character in all instances. Will I betray another for a meal? Will I stand up for another’s freedom by surrendering my own life? Will I be decent so long as my children's lives are not in jeopardy? I feel that considering this series of possibilities will do much to strengthen our own mental fortitude.
Examples of Strength:
It doesn’t require much time on Facebook or in front of the daily news to realize that there are many persons surrounding you who do not believe in self-reliance, freedom, and independence as you do. Worse, there are few persons who are willing to work hard to establish healthy state of preparedness and then back up the courage of convictions with bravery in light of all kinds of torture, starvation, or embarrassment. Instead they feel emboldened with a sense of entitlement that simply because you have, they should receive. This pervasive thought process may not seem life-threatening today, but under the cloud of war, famine, or other challenges, it may seem perfectly rash to a weak mind.
Love our neighbors? Certainly! I believe that because of such a love we are required to forgive them their wrongdoings. In fact, I believe that the scars of those who were betrayed so cruelly during the 2nd World War will be healed contingent on the measure of forgiveness they extend to their traitors as well as the scars we carry by betrayal in our own lives. But let’s understand that the Parable of the 10 Virgins, Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, the sell-out of Joseph in Egypt by his brothers, and many other thought provoking scenarios only addresses loving of our neighbors, not blindly trusting them. In fact, in the case of Christ and Joseph in Egypt, we are given all kinds of examples of carrying cautiously in light of human betrayal. In light of all of these points, I feel that there’s a great deal of wisdom in the admonition to “trust not in the arm of flesh.” In fact we are warned of this reality in the scriptures as we are told that even brother shall fight against brother and even the strongest of bonds between a woman and her own child shall be shredded amidst times of turmoil and trial.
I like my neighbors, a lot. We talk over fences. We gather at celebrations. At Christmas time we all exchange homemade gifts of love and loveliness. But it’s a very different outlook when I ask myself if I could trust so and so with my life and freedom. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of people in this world that I feel I could answer affirmatively. As such, I either need to get to know them all better so that I can be accurate in my summation or I must be wise in my decisions of who I can trust. After all, I believe I have a solemn responsibility to care for my family and choice friends so that we may fulfill all of our purposes here on earth.
There is a reality for which we must mentally prepare so that we might peacefully anticipate a day of great turmoil without losing our emotional strength. We have greater ability to be at peace if we acknowledge that such a compromise of trust could happen to us. It’s wise and even peaceful to face this reality so long as we harbor no hatred or fear of those who would violate our trust. We must accept that vile brute force can and frequently does triumph over kindness, love, and decency. The Polish and Lithuanian Jews who were annihilated by the Einsatzgruppen didn’t believe that something so atrocious could ever happen to them. George Washington never wanted to believe that Benedict Arnold would betray his country in exchange for a little financial gain. The great Chief Tecumseh couldn’t fathom that anyone would not want the Indian nations to be unified in strength and peace. After bravely conquering entire armies of men who threatened the destruction of Ireland’s civilization, Grace O’Malley never expected her own son to betray her into the hands of prison. Though Christ had foreknowledge of Judas’ betrayal, it still brought him tears of sorrow. But all of these persons were able to thrive in peace and victory in spite of these crushing turns of event. And with a little bit of caution, we too can endure anything that life throws at us, in spite of fickle, fine feathered friends.
May your trusted friends be many and your preparedness efforts be even more abundant.
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