Holy moly, am I glad I slept well last night, because today was a whirlwind. When Dr. P said we were hitting the ground running today, he was not lying.
Today, our group had the opportunity to discover Berlin in the eyes of its remembrance and tribute toward their doings in the Holocaust—an event that is not so far removed from today, and rings too true to key themes we as humanity ought to remember. Visiting the Memorial of the Murdered Jews and the Typography of Terror and walking among religious spaces that were vandalized and damaged for their viewpoint, had our group really asking one prominent question: How?
How did this happen? How did things escalate to such an extent that over a million people would attend a celebratory ceremony for Adolf Hitler and think it was complete normalcy? How was no one able to stop it before they did? Seeing firsthand pictures and hearing real, genuine stories rattled me. I, personally, have Jewish heritage and members of my close family who are Jewish. As I heard the stories and read the quotes of dealing with the terror and the horror and the brutal dehumanization of the Jews, it was almost impossible to not replace the names of those people with names of my family members whom I know and love. The people in my family have souls that offer vivacity to our world and if they weren’t given human rights, the world would be severely missing out. Nowadays, everyone grows up learning about World War 2 and the Holocaust, yet it is still so easy to forget the rawness and realness that lies in the statistics. Those numbers of people who were murdered are people, with names and a story to tell. Small tears stung my eyes as I read of men and women who lost hope—lost their faith in the goodness of humanity.
Yet also, I couldn’t help but to think of the other side, the people in whom joined the Nazi Party. How sad to be so brainwashed, so programmed to think that oppressing the life of someone simply because of their race or religious belief is anyone near ok. These people who supported the Nazi party must be so low, so broken to join a movement that screams out hate at its finest. My heart hurts for the people who endorsed a movement that they had no idea would cultivate into a monstrosity of hate.
I look upon both sides of the story, the good and the bad, and there’s one thing that wells up inside me—empathy. I mourn for the ones who lost hope because of the heritage they belong; I mourn for the ones who merely lack light, lack sympathy in life, and join a movement rooted in hate; I mourn for the ones caught in between, knowing the right way to go, but letting fear drive their footsteps.
Living a life viewing other people as not worthy of existence is one of the saddest lives to live. That is important to never forget; never forget that people are people, good or bad or somewhere in-between. We grow together, we laugh together, we learn together. Think of all the poets and doctors and athletes and thespians and writers and engineers and scientists and mathematicians that existed in those millions of Jews murdered. May we, today, be people who truly, deeply humanize one another, remembering that everyone around us is three-dimensional, with a soul and feelings. The more empathy we cultivate as a society, the less hate will permeate our sphere. Man against man will never result in the unification of a nation, but in order to grow we must look past one another flaws and differences and notice how similar we all truly are.