The fire within

The comic I chose from ZEN PENCIL revolved around this (really long) quote from Sophie Scholl:

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”

Before I read this comic, I had no idea who Sophie Scholl was, so I did a little bit of research about her. Scholl was born in 1921 and was active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. At the age of 21, she was executed for high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich. Such a strong and willful woman Scholl was, as her last words were, “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

But the biggest reason as to why I chose this comic was its modern-day take on Scholl’s words. The comic portrays a woman who gets laid off from her job, but refuses to join in any protests against the big corporations and the unemployment rates in fear of making enemies or becoming a target. Yet little does she know that by staying quiet, she is only silently and unknowingly amplifying the voices of the other side. Perhaps I see a bit of myself in this woman, in that I try to steer away from controversial issues for fear of offending those with different beliefs than me, in that I frequently browse through news sites, and three-times current issues & events state champion I may be, have done basically nothing with that knowledge except sigh and then go watch another Taylor Swift music video.

“[Honest men] who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves.”
That’s the line that strikes me. “Honest men,” Scholls calls them, yet the damage they make on our society equals or even surpasses those who are actively perpetuating and pushing their harmful agenda. “Little lives,” she reminds us, because indeed, each one of our lives is just a small piece in the puzzle of mankind, and if we do choose to live small, we die small. And die we will, we ALL will, the ones who live in their illusion of safety and the ones who fight for freedom, honor and truth.

One of the biggest reasons why I, and probably many others, remain silent is because we believe our individual voices may not be heard, and that our individual votes may never even matter here in Texas. So we stay quiet, trying to keep our own lives in order.

But our voices and votes are never alone, for there are “millions who want to ‘survive,’ millions of honest men and women who want to be safe, who if only could realize that to be safe means not to “roll up their spirits into tiny little balls,” but rather to take active control of the direction of their lives. And let us all choose our own ways to burn.

Sophie Scholl

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4 thoughts on “The fire within

  1. boots1958 says:

    “Yet little does she know that by staying quiet, she is only silently and unknowingly amplifying the voices of the other side.” The first thing that came to mind when you stated this comment was similar to something we talked about in economics class. Pratt asked us “when does a movie ticket cost too much?” Indeed many people responded with the price they thought was too much, but many people also admitted they would still buy the ticket even for the expensive prices. Pratt reminds us that we have the control, not the businesses, because we choose where to spend the money. The best way to protest against the expensive movie ticket would have been not paying for it at all. This “protest” seems small in comparison to the one from the cartoon. However, most people would usually pay for the price and move on whether they agree or not. In relation with the cartoon’s message, many people think their voice won’t stand out, like you mentioned. Something as simple and walking a way from a movie theater because of their price is a little thing that could turn into a big thing. Nobody wants to be the one to tell their friend, “I’m not going to stay, because I don’t like the price.” The friend may be called “dumb” but even in this situation we have more power than we may realize, and we must stick up for our beliefs and choices.

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  2. paco1216 says:

    I think both your reply to the cartoon, and the cartoon itself highlight one of the big dilemmas in life. How do we transition from thought to action?/ and is our thought worth it. It is easy to feel disenfranchised, and worthless. How to break that feeling? Is action enough? Also, can the idea of a voice be linked to voting and how worthless our vote feels? Even when, in the end, as a group our vote matters. Do we have to look at these issues beyond the scale of the individual to understand them? Just some thoughts, don’t need to answer them.

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