Betsy and I believed that our 1993 trip to Europe would be our one and only opportunity to see that part of the world. We were wrong. With our eldest daughter Katie, we had carefully planned an itinerary that included a few days in London and Amsterdam and a Rhine cruise. When booking that river cruise we learned that it would stop for several hours at Cologne, a beautiful city where our friends the Revs. Markus and Suzanne Zimmermann lived.
Markus and Susanne, both pastors in the Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland, had recently returned to Cologne following a year-long program in America during which they had served as pastoral interns, both with our local United Church of Christ congregation and an African American congregation of the United Holy Church in a neighboring city. We eagerly seized this opportunity to reconnect with our friends, so by emails we arranged to meet them for dinner when our cruise ship was to dock at Cologne.
Over dinner, we and the Zimmermanns discussed ways our congregations on opposite sides of the ocean could get together to explore our common beliefs and ways we practice our shared faith. This conversation led to a series of tours and exchanges of youth and adult groups and choirs that has grown and prospered through the years and continues today.
This good news serves as background to the point of today’s blog.
On these tours, we always have been lodged as guests in the homes of German families, parishioners in the church served by the Zimmermanns and some neighboring churches. One learns a lot about folks when living with them in their homes for several days. Friendships develop, blossom and continue today. Candid conversations with these new friends taught us that an older generation of Germans continue to hold strong memories and heartfelt feelings about the period of Nazi power that they and their parents experienced.
We learned how some of our new friends still struggle to reconcile feelings of unearned guilt brought on by being forced to live under the cruel excesses of the Hitler regime. Millions of Germans felt helpless, trapped in a system they couldn’t control.
Today in America, we, in theory, live in a superior system of government, one in which we are governed by people we elect to represent us and protect us from the immoral excesses of power-hungry leaders. That’s how it’s supposed to work under our constitution. As Dr. Phil likes to ask, how’s that working for us?
Yet today in America, we find ourselves trapped in a system of government dominated by a single political party whose representatives remain either silent or supportive of an incompetent, power-hungry and vindictive serial liar, cheat, racist and mysoginist whose most admired heroes are the world’s most immoral dictators. We are in this fix thanks in large measure to an acquiescent chorus of congressional sheep with no moral conscience.
This not going to fix itself. If it is to change, we — you and I — need to make it happen, by resisting in every way we can.
And by voting.