“If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer explained to his sister, “then I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try and wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”

The German theologian, a pacifist, was attempting to convey why he had joined with others to plot an unsuccessful assassination of Adolf Hitler. The most extreme ambition is to attempt revolution. Bonhoeffer tried and failed and was executed on April 9, 1945, as a result.

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