genocide

 

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“I have seen something that will haunt me to the end of my life. That there were children, little children. And what they had done ― ‘they’ I mean the enemy ― they had dug pits. It seems there was no room anymore in the gas chambers. They would throw those children in the flames, alive. That we have seen that and not gone crazy is, that’s a miracle. … For a while I thought maybe I, maybe I was still a prisoner of my nightmare.  But then I met friends, and I told them the same images, and I found documents corroborating it. What we have seen, it’s true.” (1)

No, don’t ever try to fathom the depraved depths of mankind’s inhumanity towards fellow man.  It’s a place too dark, too evil for the soul to enter.  But, we must remember the hell which had been leveled against innocence, against the children and the helpless, against men, women and children who did not fit the acceptable pattern of Nazi Germany.  We must remember these horrors lest that cowardice occurs again in the world of the 21st century.  Today’s political events indicate that we are not above the hatred and intolerance which permeated the white nationalist mindset ushering in the 3rd Reich and its Holocaust.  Never forget the history of mankind’s capacity for darkness and evil.

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(1) ELIE WIESEL

 

injustice – elie wiesel

“Injustice may inspire anger or rebellion, but must not create despair.  Injustice has been part of our world since its beginning……..despair is when you no longer believe in anything.” ELIE WIESEL, The Night of the Uprooting

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CHRISTMASTIDE – Dec 25th-Jan6th

Yes, this is an appropriate quote for the season of Christmastide.  Why do we think the concept of a Savior and Deliverer was introduced to the world with the story of Jesus, born in Bethlehem?  Why do we marvel that this babe was announced to shepherds, the lowest class of Hebrew society only a step above lepers?  The world of Judaism 2000 years ago is a case study in oppression and social injustice from not only the Roman conquerors, but also the Jewish religious hierarchy.

Elie Wiesel suffered the most inhumane form of injustice at the hands of the Nazis in the death camps of Hitler.  He could not approach the significance of his internment for several years after being freed by the Allied Forces.  Fortunately for us, he eventually saw the writing of his story as a duty to the Jewish nation and the world.  He shared the pain and the horror of the Nazi atrocities in his subsequent books.  Mr. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

Any of us today, me included, would surely “be inspired to anger or rebellion” if subjected to the same treatment as the Jews of 1930s and 1940s.  Justifiably so.  But, how many of us would  not curl up in despair?  Whom among us would be able to sustain faith, hope, and love while starving in the humiliation, the cold, the desolation of a prison camp where survival is a daily challenge?  I pray that neither you nor I ever have to suffer those consequences.

Despair is our enemy.  Not having hope is a death sentence of the soul, but faith in the unknowns of this life inspires hope and defeats despair.  The Christmas story, whether I believe it to be reality or you believe it to be myth, tells us how to relate to a world filled with violence, hatred, oppression, intolerance.  The life and teachings of Jesus portrayed by ancient scriptures is a blueprint to living life abundantly with faith, hope, and love in the midst of man’s inhumanity toward man.

We are witness today to unfathomable social injustice which should make us angry and rebellious.  But it does not need to devour us with despair.  That is the essence of the gift presented to us by the birth of a child 2000 years ago.  It is up to you and I to make it a marvelous myth or a life-saving reality.  Our concept of Jesus is hope in a seemingly hopeless world.

Let it be real as the morning sunshine, the stars in the nighttime sky, the singing of angelic children.  Let us discover, now, in the midst of turbulence and injustice the strength of faith, hope and love.  Lead us to defeat despair with the power of his eternal story.

philippians 4:7

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Lest we forget

Elie Wiesel published NIGHT in 1958, thirteen years after his liberation from the Nazi death camp of Buchenwald at 6 P.M. on April 10, 1945.  It is said he could not or would not speak of his experience for several years, but decided he needed to face the memories and the horror of his experience because the world needed to remember.

ELIE WIESEL NOBEL PEACE PRIZE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Excerpts from that speech in Oslo, Norway, on December 10, 1986:

“I remember: it happened yesterday, or eternities ago.  A young Jewish boy discovered the Kingdom of the Night.  I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish.  It all happened so fast.  The ghetto. The deportation.  The sealed cattle car.  The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.”

I remember he asked his father, ‘Can this be true?  This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages.  Who would allow such crimes to be committed.  How could the world remain silent?

And now the boy is turning to me. ‘Tell me,’ he asks, ‘what have you done with my future, what have you done with your life?’  And I tell him that I have tried.  That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget.  BECAUSE IF WE FORGET, WE ARE GUILTY, WE ARE ACCOMPLICES.”

As a caravan of desperate Central American men, women and children from Honduras snake their way north to a land which they hope will give them a chance for sanctuary from a despotic, violent government, will America shut the door?

In June of 1939 nine-hundred-thirty-seven passengers aboard the ship St. Louis, most of them European Jews, were denied entry to the port of Miami and forced to return to Europe; more than a quarter died in the Holocaust.  Our government under FDR stated that they posed a national security threat.

In February of 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, FDR ordered the internment of 110,000 – 120,000 Japanese-Americans in western parts of the United States.  Sixty-two percent of those were United States citizens.  Again the government said they posed a national security threat, but historians lay the blame on racism.

“And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.  Sometimes we must interfere.”  

How can we remain silent?

 

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