I’m Not Going to Worry About It — a totally different direction

Sometimes I jot down things my mother says on the off-chance that they may spark a future post.  The truth is, my memory isn’t what I used to be, and so sometimes I scan through the list of mom-sayings while praying, “Lord, what do you want me to write about today?”  I’ve actually started posts with “I’m not going to worry about it” several times because it is ripe with possibilities — so ripe, in fact, that it now yields back-to-back posts.

My mother says, “I’m not going to worry about it” when things don’t make sense to her.  It’s her way of dismissing the confusing topic.  If only it were so simple to dismiss those things that trouble us.

There is a topic that has long troubled me.  When I say long, I mean decades.  It is the Holocaust, the systematic extermination of Jewish people, insidiously spear-headed by Adolf Hitler, and stupidly, vilely,  followed by so many.

I can still remember vividly the day I learned about the Holocaust.  It was a fall day at Syracuse University in 1978.  I was taking a class in Judaism.  Many of the students in the class were Jewish, looking for an easy class to take.  I was looking for understanding of another religion that was linked to my own faith.

Before attending Syracuse University, I had only known one Jewish person, Iris Greenburg.  I think her family had a summer home in Cooperstown.  One day, we were probably eleven or twelve,  she told me she was Jewish and I had a world of questions for her.  Where do you go to church?  It’s a synagogue.  But where is it?  Oneonta.  And so on.

So, I’m sitting in this Judaism class in 1978, surrounded by Jewish students, and the professor started talking about the Holocaust.  He throws out a number — 6 million.  Six million people killed.  The other students don’t seem shocked or anything.  They’ve all heard it before.  But for me, this is news.  I had another world of questions.  How could this happen?  What about all the people who should have done something to stop it?  Why didn’t I learn about this before?

Now, I suppose I could just say, “I’m not going to worry about it,” but I did and still do.  That number is staggering.

In 1998, a group of middle-school students in Whitwell, Tennessee had a similar reaction.  They were studying the Holocaust in a voluntary after-school class, and found that number unfathomable, so they decided to gather six million paperclips, to see how big the number really was.  A book, appropriately called Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial, documents the whole thing.

Another book I’m currently reading,The Heart and the Fist:  The education of a humanitarian and the making of a Navy SEAL by Eric Greitens, is a fascinating story of a Duke graduate, an Oxford Rhodes scholar, who as a student had travelled the world — China, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, India (to work with Mother Teresa), Bolivia to name a few of the countries — but then chose to become a Navy SEAL because he wanted to make a difference.  While in Rwanda, a country devastated by its own Holocaust, he observed

These women had suffered more than I could have ever imagined, and they were still willing to welcome me, to talk with me… If people can live through genocide and retain compassion, if they can take strength from pain, if they are able, still, to laugh, then certainly we can learn from them.

I couldn’t help but wonder if any of these were the same women my friend, Katie, now working with IJM in Kigali, has opportunity to counsel and help to tell their story.

Eric Greitens said

We live in a world marked by violence, and if we want to protect others, we sometimes have to be willing to fight.  We all understand at the most basic level that caring requires strength as well as compassion.

Oh, how I want that strength!

One thing that really bothers me about the Jewish Holocaust is the complacency of the German people.  Women planted their gardens and hung their clothes on clotheslines outside the walls of the death camps and the ghettos.  Could that be me?

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom Hashoah, begins at sunset tonight and goes through sunset tomorrow, April 19.  Stop sometime during the day and count to 6,000,000 to remember.  And worry about it.

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A few years ago my sister went on the Potters School field trip to DC and visited the Holocaust museum there. She said that most of the high schoolers visiting on field trips were laughing and being rowdy. That really upset me.

    • Helen had a similar experience with her Global class in public school. Kids laughing about horrific things. I think it just shows their maturity level.

      The Holocaust Museum in DC is one I would really like to visit, though.

  2. I can’t help but wonder about how they teach it now in school. Do they just mention it once in history class? Or do they start in early grades and then teach more later? I grew up knowing as a child though in those days you didn’t generally talk about it. My grandfather must have lost cousins or second cousins but never said anything. He lost a brother in the first world war and even my mother never heard about that until I started to research our family history. People didn’t want to talk about unhappy memories. Six millions is so large a number most of us never could comprehend it. And yet, that number is low. Now they are learning about people murdered in their towns instead of being taken to death camps at all. Father Dubois is researching and publishing those stories. I heard him speak about 3 years ago. Thank you for writing about it.

  3. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is a psychiatrist’s first hand account of a concentration camp. He said that the best of them died in the camps, that is, those that were brave enough to give up something for another… chilling. We can have that strength, but it must come from above. Great post Sally!

    • I may look for that book to read. Those stories are chilling, yet beautiful, when we see the self-sacrifice. Isn’t that what Christ calls us to do?

      • It is one of my favorite books. You might have also heard of “Night” by Elie Wiesel… both are incredible reads.

      • I am familiar with Elie Wiesel, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Frankl. Will check him out.

  4. At some point I’ll have to go to Jerusalem myself and see the Yad Vashem site.

    • It’s one of those place I really want to see.

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