Lessons of History

It is August 2017. 72 years after the end of World War II when the world learned about the horrors of concentration camps, and the slaughter of over 6,000,000 human beings.  Typing those zeros is sobering.  And it isn’t fair to the people who died.  They weren’t just a number.  They were someone’s child, mother, father, grandma, grandpa, friend. They were innocent.  Their “sin” was many believed they were inferior.  Their death was justified by hate and ignorance.

There is no question about how and why this many people died. The history is crystal clear.  One man, I won’t give him the dignity of repeating his name gained power in Germany and convinced millions of people that Jewish people were to blame for their problems.  He further claimed people with blue eyes, blond hair, and white skin were the superior race and rightfully deserved to be in power.  I always wondered if he failed to look in the mirror?  This man with these crazy ideas did not personally kill 6 million people.  The tragedy is not just that he gained power, the tragedy is how many people believed him or didn’t speak up.  He empowered others to hate or at the very least be complacent to the hate.  Leadership sets the tone of what is normal.  Most people didn’t speak up, didn’t protest, didn’t question the narrative. I have often wondered what I would have done?  Would I have been complacent, or would I have tried to do what I could to help?  I am truly inspired by stories of people who risked their lives to help others despite grave danger to themselves.

Yesterday, in Charlottesville, Virginia there were people marching and using the Nazi hand signal. There is a picture of my own great state of MN of men marching


with Nazi symbols on their arm. Many of them feel inspired and empowered by our President.  How is this possible?  How is it possible that any human still uses the man responsible for the death of 6,000,000 people as their personal hero?

The same narrative existed in the United States against American Indians, and African Americans and many other groups of people. The Confederate Flag is a symbol of that hate, which was also prominent in the protests. Many among us believed whites were superior, therefore justifying killing, enslaving, and terrorizing entire groups of people.  This is our history too.  Yesterday’s riots proved that narrative has not died.

If you ask most people what would be the characteristics of a superior human being. They would likely list traits such as kindness, integrity, honesty, strength of character, love for others, generosity.  JusticeThese are universally the traits that humans appreciate and admire in each other.  People with these traits and those whose life mission make the world a better place are the people we admire and should admire.  Most people would not cite traits such as cruel, hateful, vengeful, paranoid, and aspirations for genocide.

The fact this man lived, made it his life mission to kill as many human beings as possible is proof the white race is not the superior race. He is the definition of evil and he was white.  The irony is, his life and actions alone make the case that there is no superior race.  Hate and fear comes in all colors and so does love.

This is a unique period in history and I find myself asking what I can do?  The lessons are many if we are paying attention.  We have learned from history it starts with “just words” which can lead to far darker consequences.  I for one aspire to use my words to be on the side of love.

Are you paying attention to the lessons? I am curious to hear your thoughts?

13 thoughts on “Lessons of History

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