Friday, January 19, 2007
Just finished reading Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally.
For those of you who have not read the book or seen the compelling movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108052/ it is the story of Oskar Schindler, a Sudeten German who ended up risking his life being the savior of more than 1,000 Jewish people in Poland and Czecheslovakia during World War 2. It is an emotional story about emotional times, which also shows that even in the darkest hours, human spirit endures. If one did not know it were true, it would be unbelievable.
We Honeymans are originally Russian jews from Tirov, near Minsk in Russia. Grandpa Jack came to New York via Ellis Island just after the Bolshevik revolution, but the branch of the family that remained in Russia all died during the war. There was no Oskar Schindler to save them.
Although genocides are not uncommon in human history (some having been done by British and Americans themselves), the films taken at Auschwitz and other concentration camps were the first time such events were captured on film and photo and widely publicized. It is shocking to me that despite this, human beings have learned so little. Since Hitler and the genocide against jews in Europe, there have been a number of similar atrocities. Among them Stalin's genocide of his own people in Russia, Pol Pot's massacre of his own people in Cambodia, Pinochet's torture and murder in Chile, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, tribal conflict in Africa, Russian mass murder of Afganis during their campaign there (not to mention the oppressive Taliban regime), Saddam Hussein's recent murder of rival factions in Iraq, and the list goes on and on. When will people EVER learn?
Yet another astounding thing about this story is that the perpetrators of the Jewish genocide were mainly Protestant Christians (Lutherans). Of course, religious persecution is one of the oldest justifications for genocide, but all Christians must be aware of the very simple ten commandments given by God. "Thou Shalt Not Kill". This does not include any exemptions or exclusions. It is a pretty simple four-word order that should leave no room for interpretation in the minds of any reader and believer. Still it seems not to be enough.
It got me thinking about lists, since that list literally meant the difference between life and death. There are good and bad lists all around us, and keepers of lists as well. What lists do you control? And who is affected by them? Are you righteous and just? Are the people on the list "people" to you? Or have they been dehumanized into names? or even worse, numbers?
All around me I see lists. Lists for who gets promoted, lists for who gets into private school, lists for who gets vital information, etcetera. email lists, action item lists, song playlists, honor rolls, detention lists, wish lists...
There is a terrifying reality that our lives are determined, sometimes forever, by the lists we are on. There is a real practical value in learning the skill of getting on and off of lists.
I pray that I would have the courage to help other people when faced with "the impossibility of reason"...Yoshinkan training is supposed to bring everyone closer and closer, until there is only One list with EVERYONE'S name on it...May God bless us all.
"he who saves a single life, saves the world entire"