Dear Congressman Reichert,
I’m a sophomore at Newport High School in Bellevue, and recently in my English class we have been discussing our personal beliefs about one’s responsibility to help others in need. Responses to this moral dilemma have varied, and it has caused me to question my own set of ethics. We put this issue into context by considering how involved our government should be in the nation of Libya.
After analyzing the situation, I have come to the conclusion that we should intervene in Libya, and I hope you’ll consider my opinion as you represent our state.
From 1939 to 1945 in Europe, Hitler’s Nazi party rounded up minorities all over the continent and put them in ghettos, labor camps, and even death camps. The Nazis ended up killing 11 million people before they were stopped. This went on for six years, and while the U.S. contemplated whether or not to interfere, 11 million people were being worked to death, diseased, gassed, cruelly experimented on, and shot for no reason other than that they were outnumbered by Hitler’s army. We don’t want to make this mistake again.
There is no way for us to know how much Libyan citizens are suffering, or if it is anywhere near to the degree of those under Hitler. But innocent human beings are being killed every day because the global community will not help them. It’s our job, as one of the most powerful nations in the world, to help these individuals overpower the authoritarian regime Muammar Gaddafi has created. By letting this problem mature while we think about what to do will bring more devastation among Libyans. It is our responsibility to help those in need.
As the saying by Pastor Martin Niemoller goes, “They came for the communists, and I did not speak up because I wasn’t a communist; they came for the socialists, and I did not speak up because I was not a socialist; they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me.”
Pastor Niemoller referred to inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. What if we were in the same position as the Libyans are today? If we lived in those conditions, and if our government was killing our family and friends because they defied what it stood for, or even for no reason at all, we would want a powerful nation to speak out for us and come to our rescue. It’s hard for people who live in the U.S. to imagine life that way, because the majority of us here have everything we need and more: A home, clean water, and a tolerant government are only three of the many things we take for granted that people in Libya don’t get the privilege to experience.
If we lend a helping hand to those in need, we set a profound example for the rest of the world. If we ever find ourselves in Libya’s current position, which is not completely inconceivable, someone may come relieve us.