Poem: Anne


Just like every

teenage girl

hating her mother

adoring her father

(knock knock–run and hide)

confounded by her

changing body

as her clothing shrank

(keep quiet–voices down)

With her big voice

and own ideas

all alone and feeling

unloved

(thump thump–what was that?)

Just a girl

with a yellow star

who said what she felt

(Move that there!)

So the world would

live the truth

(Come with us!)

Forever

Advertisements

One


Humans have so many peculiar traits. There are a myriad of cultural, ethnic and race oddities we humans have adopted that allude me. How far in the centuries do they go back and from where do they stem?

For instance: where does royalty come from? Watching The Crown last night, it struck me as, well, silly (no offense to anyone reading), that we as humans actually regard other humans as somehow superior. That their blood is somehow ‘royal’ and to be treated specially; that we should bow down and kiss their hands etc. It struck me as funny.

And then there is the black vs. white situation. We all know the horrors of that situation, not only in this country, but in South Africa too. How do humans come to a place that one race is more deserving than another? Where does this feeling begin?

In Germany, we have an idea where to trace the hatred of the Jews and subsequent extermination of them. But was it really just one man’s idea or is there an underlying theme among humans that somehow we are not all equal? I see a trend.

There are so many examples we can look to in history where one people feels different and better or somehow higher. In some cases, like with royalty, maybe these people are held in high esteem. But in most cases, it causes bad blood  among the groups.

I’m no scientist, but I do know that at our cellular level, and when you cut us all open, we all bleed them same. We all look the same on the inside. We all have a heart, two lungs, two kidneys and a brain, although some don’t use it as well as others. That’s why when you get right down to it, it’s all so foolish that we fight and kill, destroy and bomb, displace and denigrate folks we feel are others. Because really they are not.

They are really us, maybe with a different color paint, but filled with the same parts.

Too Small


Inspired by the movie “The Woman In Gold,” I have begun to read the book titled “The Lady In Gold,” by Anne-Marie O’Connor. It is about a famous painting by the Viennese artist Klimt which was stolen during the Nazi invasion of Vienna by Hitler, along with many other Jewish treasures and artwork.

The book goes into much detail about the horrors of that time and it has hung heavy on my heart. And I realize, though, it seems not much different from today.

When I woke up this morning, after having dreams about German invasions of a hospital (because of my new job offer at a hospital I suppose), I turned on the radio and heard about the San Bernardino shooting.

My early walk had already been filled with thoughts of what a violent species we were, and questions about why this was so. And here it was yet again! More death, more unnecessary bloodshed.

NPR was profiling the current types of people who do these sorts of things: the outcasts, the unhappy childhood, the ones that feel separate or not a part or who have been rejected. This was even Hitler! It’s shocking. But what makes that one person turn on their fellow human and decide to harm them–sometimes en masse?

Sometimes this person is so extreme in their behavior they are able to recruit others–even change a nation to be brutal! Slavery of any kind is also a kindred kind of violence unleashed upon others and is filled with superiority and hatred.

In looking through history, what little I know of it, it seems that many indigenous people did not act in these types of ways. There may have been some tribal fighting, but the random ethnic cleansing due to insecure and hateful personalities of individuals seems to be missing.

I often wonder if we are mutating to possess some gene that carries this violence within us. I pray we do not. There are days I fear turning on the radio and simply feel numb when I hear about more dead.

How do we stop this march? How do we make these people feel more a part? Can you start to sense when someone might do a heinous thing and help them see it is not the answer? Are we all simply lost?

image

Maybe work places need to provide more time for employees to meet, gather and really talk. And make sure everyone’s mental health is stable. We need to really start caring about one another: our co-workers, neighbors, family members–even people you just meet in the street.

Because if we all are going to live in this volatile world together, then we are each responsible for the action of another. The earth is getting too small to believe otherwise!

image

The Choice


Recently I’ve been reading a very moving book entitled “Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed” by Philip P. Hallie.  It’s about a small French village called Le Chambon during the Nazi Occupation and “how good happened there.” They helped thousands of Jewish and other refugees escape the horrors being razed upon them.  They did it not for money and not because they were organized by any group. Quite the contrary. One man in particular stood out: A Protestant minister named André Trocmé  was the mover and shaker for the movement. His powerful messages both from the pulpit and every day about loving all men rang true for every villager.

Not one person betrayed the refugees. They hid them in their homes, taught them in schools and didn’t come out and lie about hiding them when the Gestapo came into town. There was a system of alerting those hidden when there would be a raid so they could hide in the nearby woods. Some of those helping even died in the cause. And some took extremely risky chances and lead some to freedom into Switzerland.

Trocmé and two others spent time in an internment camp themselves and wouldn’t leave, even when they were allowed, because they refused to sign a doctrine that stated they would follow the French rules. These rules were aligned with the German rules they believed were cruel and went against the laws of a higher power.

So many that would have surely died were saved because of this village. And while only a fraction of the millions murdered, it still is an amazing beacon of hope during the darkest of times. France for the most part was not a safe place for Jews or anyone aligned with Jewish people. So the simple people of Le Chambon showed such depth of character, high ethical beliefs and an ability to move beyond fear for what is right and just.

It made me pause and think: what would I do in such a similar instance? I’ve always thought of myself one of high ethics and believe we are all one. While not a religious person, I certainly feel we are all cut from the same mold. The people from this village took it so far as to not even hate the Nazis and believe in non-violence always. This is actually what helped them in many instances with the Gestapo.

If push came to shove, would I put my life on the line to save others in such a time as was seen here? Would I put my family, my community and everything I had ever known in jeopardy to save people I didn’t know because I believed it was right? And would I try to get others around me to do the same? I have always thought I would.

I would because to live in a world where to run from helping and turning my back on others, is not a world in which I would choose to live anyway. If I had to stand by and watch my fellow human beings march down a street–most of whom were my neighbors–to certain death, then I might as well be dead too. I would at least have to try to help and risk dying myself.

The beauty of Le Chambon was the simplicity of so much of it all. No real planning. The right hand never knew what the left hand was doing–and this was actually critical. That way if one house was caught, they couldn’t divulge information about another because they honestly didn’t know. They never even knew who provided the false identification cards–to this day it is unknown.  And they never truly and came out and lied about harboring Jews. They would just say things like: What is a Jew? Because they believed they were just men like they themselves were.

And ultimately these people only did what is right. When Hallie interviewed them years later and asked why they put themselves at such risk, he said they would shrug and say things like: well of course it’s what you would do! They needed help! Trocmé and others were recognized by Israel many years later as Righteous Among Nations as was the whole town.

In other parts of the world genocide continues. Human beings continue to slaughter other human beings because they are ‘different’. We are the only species where this happens. But within these pockets of death and inhumanity, there always seems to groups of people who rise above. The Quakers, some Catholic organizations, American Red Cross and many other groups that have gone in to help the helpless for years.

Does this mean there is hope for us? For me? I can only wish that I would rise to my best self as the people of Le Chambon did during the dark days of the Nazi occupation and put my life at risk to save others. And hopefully motivate others to do the same.