I can’t say I liked the new president, but I thought he was better than the other candidates. He promised to keep certain institutions intact and so I voted for him. Not really for me, I thought, but for my parish. For that, I am sorry.
I remember when they first came for my neighbour. Ahmed was a nice enough fellow. Smelled a little, but polite. I remember having a few exchanges with him that led no where. He was devout in what he believed. But we would joke that with all our conversion attempts he would become the priest and I would become the Imam. I hope to meet him again and perhaps I will.
I called the elevator. Ahmed was there with a large soldier–or whatever they called themselves–on either side. He looked at me with desperation and I looked at the soldiers. They nodded and escorted him away.
I didn’t do anything, but I assured myself that it was okay. It wasn’t my fault. Everyday I could see more people being taken away through the bars of my little window. When people started to realize what was going on and that they couldn’t even hope for the skewed, racialized justice system that had been in place before, they started resisting. I stopped looking out my window and did what my Father had taught me to do; I prayed.
And soon the resisting stopped. The news turned from fear over an ungodly Islamic uprising to stories of hope through steadfast leadership. And I believed it. I wanted to. I needed to. I told myself I had tried to save my friend, but he wouldn’t convert. That that couldn’t be put on me. That there was no way to even know what happened to him so there might not even be blame to place. That I was a good person that did good things.
The positivity in the news didn’t last.
They came for the Jews next. The synagogues were raided and the more prominent figures were beaten publicly. And as long as I took a small detour, justifying to myself that I really need the groceries or whatever was in that direction, I could avoid seeing the problem. Besides, I had my own people to take care of.
Another few days of hope. Who else could they come for?
During Mass, our service agreed that we would support each other through these uncertain times. That that’s what God would want. We lived in a more privileged part of town and surely our members could do something. But when the guards came and asked for names of the few minority members, none of us fought. We complied forgetting our promise of solidarity and repeating to ourselves the reassurances from the soldiers we knew were lies. Someone said they heard our members were just going to move back home. We all thought that would be for the best.
Surely we could have peace now. The rest of us fit the literal description of angels according to last week’s news. But that was last week’s news and there always always an enemy to fight. There was a knock at my door and two soldiers greeted me, each taking one arm. The image was rather silly I thought. From one look, anyone could tell that there was no realistic way that I could fight back. But I suppose it was more to send a message. I pleaded silently with everyone I came across, but anyone left only survived by looking away.