News, Ethics & Culture

How an NFL Tribute Motivated Me to Fight Evil

I am Grateful an NFL Tribute Gave Me a Wake-Up Call to Fight Against Evil

Originally Published on The Good Men Project 11/26/15

It was Thanksgiving week, which for many Americans means a chance to feast, party and gather with family and friends. The entire holiday season is also an opportunity to give thanks for all the people and good things in our lives. It’s important to be grateful and this is the perfect time to express that. Besides giving thanks, this is the best time of year to watch football. To get into the festive spirit, I tuned into Monday Night Football to watch the New England Patriots host the Buffalo Bills. Whether or not the Patriots and Tom Brady would win and remain undefeated was the big topic of the evening.

Thoughts about football quickly left my mind when the game opened up with a tribute and moment of silence to an 18 year old Patriots fan. Ezra Schwartz, who had been shot overseas in another act of terrorism, could be seen on the big screen, smiling ear to ear, in his Patriots jersey. Ezra was an 18-year old Massachusetts resident who was murdered in Israel by terrorists last week. He had been studying abroad, just like my children had, as well as many other American students do each year. He was delivering food as charity work when assailants opened fire on the van he was riding in. He died at the scene.

Caption: Hadar Buchris, 21, Brutally Stabbed to Death Last Sunday

Caption: Hadar Buchris, 21, Brutally Stabbed to Death Last Sunday

A life with so much promise and a great future was snuffed out by pure hatred. Ezra Schwartz was killed for no other reason than for being a Jew. Last Sunday, 21 year old Hadar Buchris was stabbed multiple times in the head and chest while waiting for a bus. Hadar was killed for no other reason than for being a Jew. That kind of hate has happened before this past week of course – 6 million times during the Holocaust, and countless times since then. Most recently, in the last 3 months, 23 innocent Jews have been killed in Israel. Many of them were stabbed in broad daylight, while they went about their daily business. I know it is an uncomfortable subject, but how many of us actually make the effort to find out what evils are taking place in the world? Maybe it’s better to just ignore these bad things and go on with our lives?

23 victims

“Of course, the horrors, of which I heard in connection of the Nuremberg trials; the fate of the 6 million Jews, their killing and those of many others who represented different races and creeds, shocked me greatly, but, at that time, I could not see any connection between these things and my own past. I was only happy that I had not personally been guilty of these things and that I had not been aware of the scale of these things. However, one day, I walked past a plaque on the Franz-Joseph Straße (in Munich), on the wall in memory of Sophie Scholl. I could see that she had been born the same year as I, and that she had been executed the same year I entered into Hitler’s service. And, at that moment, I really realised that it was no excuse that I had been so young. I could perhaps have tried to find out about things.” -Traudl Junge, Secretary to Adolf Hitler

Ignoring evil allows it to happen again and again.

The Patriots’ Ezra Schwartz memorial ceremony lasted 40 seconds. For many, the memory of Ezra’s 18 years didn’t last much longer than that. The game kicked off and many focused back on football and their Thanksgiving week. But Ezra’s death hit me right between the eyes. This could have easily been one of my children. It could have been anyone’s child.

During this holiday season, when I sit at the dinner table with my five children, we will of course express our gratitude and thankfulness for all that we have. But, we will also spend time discussing the evil that exists in the world and what we can do to bring attention to it. I call on everyone to do the same.

We need to open our eyes, actively inquire, call out hate and evil, and demand action be taken to stop it. We need to work for a time in our history when we enjoy our holiday season even more by being grateful that there was no evil in the world that year.

Unrealistic? Maybe. But I am grateful that it is something I want to work towards.

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