Thursday, January 27

lest we forget (A Bloggers Unite post)

Today, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day it is imperative to remember. This is a Bloggers Unite post.

The date itself was chosen by the UN as it marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945.

During World War Two one sub-demographic of a culture, a group in a position of extreme power, utterly dehumanized another cultural group to the most extreme degree. That example of bigotry and prejudice now lives in infamy as an ultimate twentieth century example of man's inhumanity to man.

The point of this day of remembrance is to sear into our memory the vivid, horrid example of that inhumanity, to remember the millions of lives lost due to an utter failure of empathy, and to pay them respect. To me, it is also about remembering that it was and is not an isolated incident; that we continue to perpetrate acts of genocide upon each other today in parts of the world; that we have not learned the lesson well enough yet.

Empathy is not culturally specific. It is not a light switch that can be turned off and on depending upon who it is we are talking about, or which cultural group we are referring to. Empathy requires that we see all humans as equal and valid, and apply the same measure of respect and/or outrage to each situation regardless of who oppresses, or who is oppressed.

This is the lesson: That all life is precious; that no life is less valuable than any other; that when we drift towards a belief that a group of people are less valuable or worthy of life than another, then we are drifting towards genocide; that, in doing so, we lose ourselves; and that to remain silent is tantamount to doing it ourselves.

Respecting those who suffered and died in the Holocaust requires respecting all peoples, especially in defense of those oppressed by a power that does not recognize this fundamental lesson – that we are all human, and all worthy.

"Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people. I would like to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice by all the members of the international community."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Press Conference SG/2120, 14 December 2006