How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day.
What was striking were not all the posts flooding social media reminding us to never forget, but instead all of the posts sharing how much we have already forgotten. The number of people in our world who do not even begin to comprehend the scope and severity of what occurred is staggering.
What is more, most of us hate to remember that it was not that long ago. Less than 100 years. And there are still people living who survived it.
The Holocaust was not the only grievous mass tragedy of the twentieth century. But it is the one which many of our families chose to help fight. To stop. To stand against.
At the same time that we were fighting overseas, however, we were also fighting our own battles at home. Many groups of people, including Jewish people, were facing discrimination, death threats, and injustice on our shores, too. And those are the battles that still rage today.
White Supremacy has made a shocking resurgence in the last decade. Yet the main visible response in our midst is to bury our heads in the sand. “It’s the twenty-first century. That’s can’t possibly be happening.”
But it is. Racism is still alive and well. Anti-semitism (in its anti-Jewish and anti-Arab forms) is very much at work in our midst. Sexism is still dying a long, slow death. And bigotry in general is still so ingrained in many hearts that when the lives of the “unwanteds” end, the world remains silent.
As we remember one of the greatest tragedies in the last century, it is not enough to simply say never again.
Yes, we must teach the real facts of how many died and how pervasive the sentiment held by the Nazis truly was. But we must also talk about the many things that occurred that made space for the Third Reich to gain a foothold. And we must not stop there.
We must face our own demons. We must actively look for those places that enable us to keep forgetting how many people are still getting hurt. We must keep working on our own systems to ensure that not only will we prevent future Holocausts, but also that we might start ending all the forms of injustice that still proliferate our world.
This is not just something for us to do because of our faith – though ours is the God of the oppressed, the orphan and the widow. But we should do this work because it is the good human thing to do.
We need to care as much for those we would want to forget as we do our own families. Only then will we truly be safe from such a tragedy ever occurring again.