Friday, December 17, 2010

the worth of a soul

I read "Night," by Elie Weisel, last night. I've read it before. It is one of the most moving, painful 109 pages of autobiographical text in its stark depiction of the horrifying atrocities that the Holocaust (or, in Hebrew, Shoah) heaped upon the European Jewish population. "Night" is Elie's own story and experience as one who suffered in the Nazi death camps. It is a surviving voice for the 6 million Jews who were silenced.
In respect to the incomprehensible suffering that "Night" details, it seems almost impertinent to state that I liked this narrative. Instead, perhaps it is better to say that I learned from this story and that this lecture heightened my sympathies for and awareness of the human cause. I don't believe I understood the profundity of this narrative the first time I read its pages, and I recoginize my continuing incapacity to grasp, this even the second time around, the extent of the inconceivable suffering and barbarity that was waged against the Jews. But, I do comprehend what I felt as I read, and what I felt was helplessness - as though I was witnessing something that I could not end and that I could do nothing but observe . And, anguishing as this may prove to the reader (as it was to me), perhaps that is the point. Perhaps we are only to observe, sympathize and learn.

A few years ago my dad, then the principal of a secondary school, had the opportunity bring a Holocaust survivor to his school to address the student body. My dad brought me along so I could listen and learn from the experiences of this man. I do not remember his name, but I remember his story. I remember the abiding sorrow that veiled his eyes, even some 50 years later. I was only 11, yet I will never forget what strange and foreign torment afflicted my soul as he told of his terrible experiences in Auschwitz, as he bore his forearm tattooed forearm, a black number forever there engraved. Similarily, in reading "Night" I confronted the same sentiments that I did as my eleven year old self. I don't think one, whether old or young, can fully understand what happened to those who were brutalized by the Holocaust. However, I do not think this to be the reason that those who survive continue to share their story. Really the purpose is to know that it did occur and to let that knowledge perpetuate a constant remembrance so that we may remember what the bitter fruits of unadulterated hatred are and resist them.

I am glad to be reminded, once again, of the unbounded worth of every one of God's children and our calling, as His children, to develop love one for another and fight that which opposes humanity.

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