Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Remembering our terrible human flaws
Yes this is Remembrance Day, a remembrance of the suffering of "the six million Jews and millions of others murdered"* during the Holocaust. It was a terrible unthinkable suffering on an unprecedented scale engineered by the Nazi regime which mechanized the dehumanization, suffering, and deaths of people it did not value. This day of remembering in particular, commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz death camp by allied forces during World War II when the horror of starving and gassing and cremating millions of people first began to be known.
On this day of remembrance we can rightly consider our peculiar human blindness that leads a people of any persuasion or ethnicity to take power and crush another that is different without mercy almost as a privilege born of their belief in or assertion of their own "special" place in history, their so called destiny - by dehumanizing and blaming the other, stripping them of their homes, goods, social rituals, food, neighbors, stealing their labor also, and finally cramming them into cattle cars, express to the "showers" a euphemism for communal gas chambers, and subsequently incinerating the evidence leaving only piles of shoes and eyeglasses - so many that the sight is heartbreaking to look at as if the starving skeletal bodies were not enough.
And we say #neveragain and over and over it happens with other groups, over and over, in and out of the light, seen and unseen, large scale and small scale. Sometimes the abused and the abuser (assuming there are survivors) might switch roles over a generation, over a governmental coup.
Don't kid yourself that we as a nation are above this. Consider who this land belonged to only a few hundred years ago. Consider Guantanamo. Consider how it still has to be said that "black lives matter." Consider your favorite political or spiritual enemy who you think is ruining or threatening this country, the economy, the world. How easily each of us could be lead into the dark. How easily we could turn a blind eye while someone else is lead..
And don't you dare say say oh that was a group of Nazi monsters that has nothing to do with us. According to one of the Smithsonian's web pages, the genetic difference between human beings is around %.01. That is, one hundredth of one percent. In other words, we share 99.99% of common DNA with Adolf Hitler. We can embody brave compassion, horrific cruelty, callous indifference. All of us.