When Good People Stand By and Do Nothing

In the face of atrocity, what then?

Regina Clarke
4 min readMar 27, 2022



No dictator or tyrant or proponent of killing human beings acts alone. They have the support of those who agree with them, sometimes in the millions. But they can be stopped by just a few. Their path of deliberate destruction can be rejected and terminated by those few, who simply refuse to stay on the sidelines and do nothing.

But those few are rarely seen.

In his book Night Elie Wiesel wrote of the searing, impossible, diabolical actions of the Nazis in the concentration camps against the millions of victims they had captured, including himself as a boy. This book was part of a trilogy. The second book of the trilogy was called Dawn. In it, he explored the emotional psychology of the executioners.

Then in the third book, The Town Beyond the Wall, Wiesel wrote of the townspeople outside the walls and barbed wire fences who stayed silent, who never protested what was happening. These were the ones who allowed the atrocities in the camps to take place by pretending nothing was happening, or because they did not consider it their responsibility. It is the townspeople who let the camps flourish in their evil business by their indifference, as well, for many of them felt that indifference.

Wiesel’s trilogy, which I read in my early 20s, was life-changing for me. I understood that people could actually choose to see other human beings as expendable. Like an earthquake, knowing this shook my world. It took many, many years to find a way to deal with this knowledge. Not the least because in the years that followed I watched the same thing occur elsewhere, in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in the Balkans. I learned about the blood-filled partitioning of India and Pakistan. I learn now about Ethiopia and Syria and the Sudan and Yemen.

And Ukraine.

How am I to make sense of so much hatred operating in the world?

Spiritual thinkers often tell us that if we could see the whole picture we would understand everything has its place in our earth existence and we are evolving into a higher frequency now.

How do I say such a thing when I am here so safe and others are not? I have a friend near Kyiv with her baby daughter…



Regina Clarke

Storyteller and dreamer. I write about the English language, being human, the magic of life, and metaphysics. Ph.D. in English Literature. www.regina-clarke.com