Silence and teenagers are two things unable to coexist.
Or so I thought, until late July. 100 incoming 10th graders, myself included, visited a holocaust museum in Montreal, Canada. A bus filled with children screaming and singing transformed into a room where the sound of a pin dropping was the equivalent of a piercing scream on any other day.
Dead silent, 100 teenagers, for 3 hours. We were silent in fear, in terror, or our past, of our species. We were put at ease by the misconception that things had changed, people had changed, events as tragic as the holocaust will never occur again.
This is simply incorrect and those who thought this were quite naive, however those unaware of this fact were informed later the same day.
We all went to listen to a holocaust survivor speak of his life, his story. He was a very nice person, he could not hear or see well at all however he proceeded to give us a presentation that was beyond captivating. The horrors behind his story were and always will be on some level unfathomable to me. Multiple concentration camps, split up from his family, watching those around him die, but he survived, pure luck as he said, the real challenge was living with his experience. Once his presentation was over we were allowed to ask him questions, one girl in the back of the room asked how he felt during the holocaust, during the torture of going from concentration camp to concentration camp. His reply will forever resonate with me. He said “Emotions? I didn’t have any”, then proceed to explain that he was not human during this experience, he was not well enough to think, he was brainwashed into some false perception of reality. He ate minimally and did as he was told, as there was no alternative option. Although he was not robbed of his life, his humanity was stolen from him. Our ability, as humans, to think, react, and convey emotions makes us who we are, it is what makes us human. It is beyond incorrect to deny any individual of such things, and this truly shows the great extent of horror that the holocaust embodies.
This man too wanted to believe that after the holocaust we would be done. Humans would be done acting so inhumane. He continued to explain that after the holocaust this was all he had hoped for, he thought that he went through what he did so that generations to come would not have to. To hear the truth from him, however, was devastating to me. I knew of the tragedy that is too prevalent in our world and societies globally of course, but something about him admitting it was extremely devastating. That being said, such a reality needs to be stated and resurfaced so that we can fix it. This man explained that he was surprised and upset to conclude that we are not done, each and every day people are being harmed to the extent he was or worse. People continue to hurt, torture, and kill, each and every day. Violence did not end with the holocaust, violence is a part of our world to this day.
Our world has not been able to improve since the tragedy that occurred, the holocaust. We must stop continuing to passively accept this violence. To be naive, to choose not to act on this violence is the result of privilege. To not feel obligated to be involved because you are not being harmed is wrong, because it could be you, your friends, or family in generations to come. You do not get to ignore tragedy just because it is not you, because it’s your world. Our world. Lets work, let’s stop this tragedy. To do so we must stop denying it. We have not stopped violence, so we have not improved enough. As long as violence exists our work is not done.
The trauma of events of our past must never be relived. We must eradicate mass killings, mass starvation, and all that events, such as the holocaust, encompass. Terror has not ceased to exist, so if you have not already, accept this. Accept this fact so that you can act upon fixing this issue. Together we will eliminate terror. We will create a better place, where everyone wants to live, to thrive, and just as importantly, where everyone wants all humans to do so as well.
Events like the holocaust must be forever eliminated. Do it for yourself, your future, the future of those after you, those suffering, and those who have suffered with the hope that you would not have to. There are so many reasons to fix our world and unveil it’s true glory. We simply cannot minimize the potential of our world.