Thursday, February 2, 2012

They Were People Just Like Us

How does one start writing about the Holocaust?

In fact, how can I write about it at all? I wasn't there. I can't even begin to know what it was like. I can only know that it had to be horrible beyond my imagination.

There is something I do know about it, though. It can happen again.

Nazi Germany wasn't a freak accident of nature. Those who participated in the torture of millions of people were often "good" people, by all accounts. In the famous Milgram Experiment in the 1960s it was found that the majority of subjects - ordinary people - would shock a person to death (they thought) in the name of Science. A repeat of this experiment forty years on led to similar findings.

Ordinary people are capable of being extraordinarily cruel under the "right" circumstances.

That means ordinary like you and I. Make no mistake, "good" people like you and I have the potential to plunge to the absolute depths of depravity unless we have the right kind of "goodness". They (the Nazis, the Milgram experiment volunteers) were people just like us. Not raving psychopaths accidently released from maximum security prison - just people... just like us.

The Bible - which incidentally recounts many examples of humanity at its very worst - tells us that "there is none that it good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:3) The prophet Jeremiah, who had the unlucky privelege of witnessing a Judah hell-bent on it's own destruction, wrote:
O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)
We each face the choice of either attempting to direct our own steps towards our own idea of goodness or of submitting ourselves to God's guidance. The words that Moses spoke to the Israelites were written down for all people to read:
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. (Dueteronomy 30:19-20)

Even now, as men direct their own steps, little girls are sold as sex slaves, small children are chained to machines to make carpets, babies in the womb are cut in pieces at the command of their own mothers, child soldiers are trained to kill other children, third-world farmers are reduced to abject poverty for the sake of first world profits...

Did I say the holocaust could happen again? Look around, it is happening. And the people driving it are people, just like us.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12)

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