People say that “Democracy can’t fail because it is the voice of the people”, but in Germany, democracy worked and Hitler came.
People say that “nothing like the Holocaust will ever happen again”, however, there is no guarantee of that because people are capable of the best and the worst and if it happened once then it can happen again. And the world responds the same way it did before; by not responding. By not caring. People blame history, “History is a book”, and so people repeat history all the time and they don’t learn from the mistakes of the past.
“How is fear playing into the Syrian refugee crisis right now?”. People are scared of strangers, they’re scared of new people coming in. The truth is, there are many people who are suffering there. You look at the children that are there and it breaks your heart, we all see ourselves or our family as those children.
People say “A democratically elected leader could never become a dictator”, no, it is dependent on their character. You cannot have a democracy where people like to use it in order to destroy it. Unless people are careful then democracy itself will be destroyed.
People say “All Nazis were inherently evil people”, no. People aren’t born evil, and they also aren’t born angels. People can very easily be influenced, very easily, especially as children. You give a man too much power and he will likely abuse it.
People say “Well, Anti-Semitism doesn’t really exist anymore”, it is in fact alive and well. All it takes really, if one wants to create something against a minority, is to demonise it. If you teach children that ‘these people are pigs’, it’s much easier for people to kill pigs.
People say “There’s nothing that could have prevented the Holocaust”, people would have, but there were no people. Human beings would have done it, they could have prevented it and they decided to live with it. Injustice should not be met with silence. You have to speak up somehow, somewhere. Of course, you have to be wise and see that you don’t put yourself in a position where you will be the next victim. But one can do these things, with wisdom.
No doubt you have noticed that I have said people a lot of times, 22 times to be precise (well 23 now). This is because we are all people and as people we need to look out for each other. Growing up I was always taught to look out for your own, this was meant for family, but scaling it up means looking out for people. If someone is being attacked for who they are because someone has a different view of what’s right, that’s not acceptable. World views are opinions, everyone has one, but it doesn’t mean that there is an urgent need to express yours and especially not to another person. I’m not saying by any means that you can’t have an opinion or have a debate with someone, but there’s a time, a place and a way to express an opinion.
I’ll end on 3 quotes from Elie Wiesel, who sadly passed away last year:
“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgements are wrong. Only racists make them.”
“I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.”
“Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the centre of the universe.”