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Food For Thought: My Judgment I Kept Flexible For Too Long

Albrecht Haushofer was a German activist who took a role in the rise of Nazism in Germany, before Hitler had clearly signalled his anti-semitism and willingness to do most anything in its cause. When Hitler's intentions became clear, Haushofer distanced himself from the Nazi party, eventually conferring with those who sought to overthrow Hitler and indirectly with those who attempted to assasinate Hitler (though Haushofer was opposed to assasination attempts since he believed they would be useless.)

He was imprisoned by the Nazis shortly after the failed assasination attempt of Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and eventually executed. He wrote this sonnet called "Guilt" which was found on his body at the time of his execution:

Yet I am guilty otherwise than you think
I should have known my duty earlier
And called evil by its name more sharply
My judgment I kept flexible too long…
In my heart I accuse myself of this:
I deceived my conscience long
I lied to myself and others
Early I knew the whole course of this misery
I warned, but not hard enough or clearly
Today I know of what I am guilty.

Contemporary condemnation of persons or institutions who are deemed "judgmental" often conflates rational discernment with bigotry in a misguided attempt to silence those would dare disagree. Evaluating moral decisions and coming to a conclusion, or judgment is deemed as arbitrary and off bounds as deciding someone's character by the color of their skin.

Albrecht Haushofer learned that sooner or later, sadly later in his case, that being flexible and non-judgmental can also make one complicit in evil.

 

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