Lessons From Auschwitz-Birkenau

One cannot help but be tormented by the sights of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The sheer size of the complex and the efficiency with which the Nazis exterminated millions is overwhelming. Each of the chimneys in this view are remnants of a barracks that held 4-5 hundred human beings awaiting death.

Emptied and refilled over and over.

The Nazis epitomized all that is wrong with humanity. It is necessary to remind ourselves of the beast within us.

Adolf Hitler killed no Jews.  He used the power of hate, anger, misinformation, and repetition of lies to inspire an entire nation to kill millions of innocent men, women, and children just because they were different. For anyone, anywhere, to emulate the philosophies of the Nazis is the height of ignorance and evil.

To deny the Holocaust is obscene. It is to abandon one’s very soul.

Instead of worrying about football players taking a knee during the National Anthem, we should all be more concerned about the existence of the American Nazi Party and their supporters. Nothing is more unAmerican than such hate.

I defy any rational human being to stand under the gate to Auschwitz, to read the words Arbeit Macht Frei, and not recognize the evil of such philosophies. To stand in a room once filled with human beings stripped of their dignity and realize it was intentionally flooded with poisonous gas by other human beings is to know pure evil.

I stood mere feet from the ovens used to consume the remains of what were once vibrant human beings, all in the cause of purifying the Third Reich. That people holding such philosophies exist today is the worst abomination of humanity. The one thing every American should agree with is there is no place for such hate in our country or anywhere in the world.

It is said that if you desire peace, you should prepare for war. I think a better philosophy is,

If you desire peace, remember the cost of war.

These shoes, taken from a child before he or she was sent to the gas chambers, are a reminder of that cost. They sit alone in front of 40000 pairs found in storage after the Nazis fled the camps. A small reminder of the estimated 16 million pairs taken during the Holocaust.

What potential did we lose with this child’s death?

An Einstein? A Chopin? A Maya Angelou? A Nobel Prize in Medicine?

That is the cost of war and the price of forgetting the past.

At the entrance to one of the barracks in Auschwitz, is the saying by George Santayana “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Remember, Hitler did not kill one Jew.  Yet, with mere words, caused millions of deaths for the sake of a lie.

Never Again!

Insights from 60 Revolutions of the Sun

In my now sixty complete revolutions of the sun, I am struck by how much the world has changed and how little people have progressed.

We are a single race. The human race. Yet, one is hard-pressed to find examples of this.

We live at a time when access to information is at an all-time high and rationality at a depressing low. Instead of recognizing our differences as nothing more than window dressing, we isolate ourselves with those we share those shallow aspects and separate ourselves from those we see as different.

Why is it we fill our hearts with the irrationality of prejudice, the willful ignorance of others, instead of embracing the commonality of our nature?

Tolerance is something we demand for ourselves and deny to others. The surface differences that comprise such a small percentage of our being cloud the overwhelming similarities.

At a time when it would seem the very survival of our common race is at hand, we focus on promoting our differences instead of joining together to insure our survival.

The faiths of the world publicly espouse their common goal yet continue to teach the doctrines of difference.

Politicians play to the lowest common denominator of fear to further than own careers no matter the cost.

We resort to violence as a solution rather than recognizing violence is at the root of the issue. Violence is the tool to protect differences not people . What we need is the rationality of diplomacy and acceptance.

I can only hope that five hundred or a thousand years from now the descendants of the human race look back on the foolishness of this time as a product of ignorance and stupidity.

Much like we mock the ignorance of the Dark Ages or the image of Stone Age man cowering in his cave from the thunder and lightning of the gods, future humans will find a similar ignorance in the history of our time.

If there are any descendants to do so.  I can only hope we survive  to live up to our self-described moniker of Homo Sapiens.

With all the tools of destruction and our skills at killing our fellow humans over artificial differences, there may not be anyone left to attain such insight and maturity of character.