Head Down, Eyes on Your Own Work!
I suppose some might have called me a coward but I’m not sure if that was 100% true, at least not in the sense they meant it. I was simply disinterested in anything much outside of my own small world to take a stand. All consequences were measured only insofar as they affected me personally. I kept my nose down, did my job, and as long as I continued to be paid for my work, I did not make trouble or take a position.
When things started to escalate and people were forced to choose sides, I just remained where I was, saying nothing. This inertia was interpreted as tacit agreement with the position of my employers. I served them, not the greater good. I wasn’t forced. I wasn’t coerced. My moral positions were limited to whatever would allow me to continue to earn a living and feed my family. I was not obligated to others. They could fend for themselves.
As discontent and anger spread, I took shelter in the aegis of my overlords, who promoted me because of my loyalty. In fact, my loyalty to them went only as far as their loyalty to me. If they had stopped paying me, I would have denounced them in an instant. But, at least for a long time, I did not need to do so.
There came a time, however, when one was on one side or the other, whether you chose it yourself or not. Doing nothing was choosing a side. Being willingly obedient was choosing a side. Being complacent was choosing a side. Turning a blind eye was choosing a side. And so, my side was chosen. Ultimately, this was not the side to be on.
But time passed, and people forgave those like me, who were just trying to keep their heads down and stay alive. There were so many of us, and even though, collectively, we allowed the evil to happen, none of us, alone, was responsible. As a group, we made excuses for ourselves. Most of those left standing at the end were of the same ilk. To blame each other would be to blame ourselves.
It was easy for outsiders to blame us; for those who sacrificed to condemn us for not doing more (or anything at all). They did not have this dilemma of having to forgive others in order to forgive themselves. It was easy to create our new reality and make excuses when everybody else was doing the same.
And we seamlessly moved through our lives, into other jobs, with other employers, with new overlords, once again, giving little attention to what was being done in our name.