Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom haShoah, a day dedicated to remembering the atrocities of the second world war, the abhorrent hatred and persecution of so many people, including my ancestors.
Our existence is so easy. We take for granted all the freedoms that our forebears fought for. From where we sit, it’s easy to say I would have stood up against hate, I would have helped, I would have faced off against unnecessary brutality.
But would we? Thankfully, most of us have never been faced with this question, so we don’t know what we would do.
Kids see it in smaller forms in the schoolyard all the time. Bullying, taunting, making fun of others, little comments that are veiled in insecurity. And what do they do with it?
I even see on a very small scale among my own children, a lot of standing by. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat the four of them down and lectured about how even if you didn’t take part in the name-calling or making fun, if you stood there and stayed silent, you’re just as guilty.
They know what I mean because their gazes gravitate toward the floor and their brows furrow. They know they could have done something to help the one being taunted but they chose not to.
It’s never enough to stay out of the melee. It’s not OK to pretend you’re not part of things.
A true guru wrote once about how we all claim to want world peace, but do we really? We want peace on our terms – with the territory we don’t want to let go of, or worse, the territory we claim as ours and demand to take over.
We use the word “tolerance” which really in itself has a passive-aggressiveness to it – to tolerate someone is to say, I can’t stand what this person is about but I’ll let it go.
No, to truly repair and heal the world, we need to move beyond tolerance to acceptance. Yes, you’re different than me. So what? I accept you.
And you accept me.
We worship differently. We eat differently. We believe in different higher powers. We live differently.
But we are the same.
Only when we see the humanity in every single person and every single nation will atrocities like the Holocaust be an absolute memory never to be repeated.
Only when we see the spark of the divine in each being – human and animal alike – will the world finally rest in peace.
We have a long way to go. It’s a start to dedicate a day to remembering the horrific-ness of the Holocaust and planning programs, posting on social channels, raising awareness.
I have a sneaking suspicion that in the deepest trenches of small towns, where no Jews reside, yesterday was just another Monday. We have a long way to go. But peace is not beyond our reach.
We can get there if we want to.