Numbers carry meaning guided by the whims of the Fates. In everyone’s life, numbers represent many things. They mark milestones, enrich our memories, and delineate our stages of life.
As a young boy, my father was a Trooper with the Rhode Island State Police. He was #24. This number played out in a mostly positive way throughout my youth. The plate on our car was JB24. I was born when my father was 24 years old. I wore the number 24 on sports uniforms for my stellar, if all-too-brief, athletic career.
To me, 24 was a positive number in more than a mathematical context.
Yet this same number 24 represents the worst of humanity
This is a marker for barracks #24 at the Concentration Camp in Dachau Germany. To those thousands of prisoners who died here, this number was a reminder of the terror and depravity humans are capable of inflicting on their fellow humans. Dehumanizing those we perceive as different makes such things possible.
It is important we never forget.
Such things can happen when normally rational people allow irrationality and prejudice to rule their thoughts. Or when we allow fear and ignorance to direct our actions toward our fellow man.
Remember this happened in a modern world with the tacit consent or willful ignorance of human beings just like us.
There is little difference in a wall to keep people out or in, and little difference in rationalizing the need for such walls.