Last Night, I Had a Dream That Nazis Were Coming for Me
It scared me to death, and I’m glad it did.
Last night, I had a horrifying dream.
Maybe I ate too much Thanksgiving pie. More likely, it was because my wife and I went to see Jojo Rabbit earlier in the day. (It was my second time seeing the movie. That’s how much I liked it.)
The movie takes place in Nazi Germany. It centers around a 10-year-old boy (Jojo) whose dream is to join Hitler’s regime. But when he meets a Jewish girl hiding in the walls of his house, his whole worldview begins to crumble. The scariest part was seeing how the Nazis indoctrinated children with such intense hatred.
In my dream, it was the present day, but we were under Nazi rule. (I also saw a preview for the last season of The Man In the High Castle yesterday, so maybe that had something to do with it?)
We got word that Hitler himself was coming to our city (Orlando, FL) to round people up. Maybe even torture them.
Even though I’m not Jewish, I knew that I’d be on Hitler’s list.
Why? Because I have a disability. Cerebral palsy.
I’m a drain on society.
I have no use to the Nazis. I don’t meet their level of perfection, and so I was better off dead, for everyone’s sake.
I could sense that everyone else around me knew I was a “dead man walking” too. Some people tried to give me a shred of hope to cling to. Maybe I’d be shown mercy, they said. Perhaps I’d be overlooked. It’s crazy to think that in a Nazi regime, being forgotten is the best thing to hope for.
The last thing I remember is that we were all gathered in a big space. It looked like an airport. People were coming and going, all hurrying to get into different lines. I’m not sure what the lines were, but I knew I would soon be standing before Hitler. A painful death awaited me.
I woke up terrified.
Within seconds, relief flooded me as I realized it was a dream. A dream I didn’t want to fade away. That’s one of the reasons I’m writing it down.
I don’t want to forget how horrified I was.
I don’t want to forget the helpless feeling of knowing evil is coming for you, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. I don’t want to forget the feeling of being targeted for who you are. And there’s no way to reason with the enemy.
I’ll never be able to understand how Jewish people felt during the reign of Nazi Germany. The way they had to hide and live in fear of being caught.
There are hundreds of stories of how Jewish people remained brave in the face of horror. Courage amid danger. Extraordinary acts that inspire the world. But I still wish they would have been allowed to lead ordinary lives. That they could go about their day without the constant fear of being caught.
Hate against anyone is hate against humans.
My dream filled me with fear. But it also reminded me that no one is safe. Not really.
Nazi indoctrination happened slowly. First, we start keeping track of the Jews, just in case. Then we give them fewer rations. Now we need to get them all together in one place, for “their own good.” People were able to look the other way because it didn’t affect them or their loved ones.
I don’t say this to judge. Fear does something to people. Fear does something to me.
We know that there were Germans who resisted the regime and worked to protect Jews. And if they were caught, they were put to death.
I wonder, would I have the courage to do that? Would I be brave enough to stand up even when I’m not the one being targeted? Would I march to my death because helping others is the right thing to do? I pray that I would.
I pray that I stand up to any form of hate.
As a Christian, I pray for the courage to stand with Muslims when they get persecuted.
I want my voice to cry out against acts of hate towards the LGBTQ+ community.
The current violence towards transgender women is despicable and must be stopped now.
I want the senseless killings of young black men to end.
But all that will require me to raise my voice when it’s easier (read: safer) to remain quiet. And honestly, that’s something I haven’t done very well.
Maybe my dream was, indeed, a wakeup call. It gave me a small taste of the genuine fear people are facing right now. It scared the hell out of me.
And I’m glad it did.