I remember the first time I watched a documentary on the Holocaust; I was about twelve years old, at a friend's house. As a child, I loved learning about war, and courage, and strategy. When I saw what those things could lead to, what unimaginable things could be done to eternal souls with temporal beauty, I could not eat for days. I could not believe that human beings could do that to one another, that we were capable of intentionally creating horror on that scale. I slept with my lights on and feared for the day that the world would turn against my people: Christians, Americans, Whites, Jews (I'm Jewish enough for the Nazi standard), or what-have-you. Well-meaning but misguided adults at the time assured me that the world had learned its lesson. They said it would never happen again. One woman, one who understood that I needed the truth, told me it would happen again, and that God can supply the grace needed when the time came. A part of me wanted to believe those who said we were safe, that it could never or would never happen in our lifetimes.
Today, I ate breakfast while reading a New York Times piece about what it is like to survive a chemical attack and scrolled past pictures of dead children on my phone. I averted my eyes from a father telling his dead daughters goodbye. I didn't weep. I tried to reason with myself as I avoided giving my hard-earned money to the starving.
I'm sure that I was too sensitive as a child. I know that there is no right time to learn that humanity is full of the darkest impulses. I've tried to answer for myself when I moved from being moved. When did I stop being torn in two? More importantly, when did the unbearable grief and pain of evil stop stirring me to action immediately? Perhaps injustice's claws dug into me to the point that I met with despair, the great paralyzer, the turning of one's back on God, the shameless acceptance of the abyss. Perhaps I forgot that my children will know I lived through 2017. I was alive when Syria was in danger of dying with all her children. They will hear their Christian mother explain why other Christians treated Muslims as poorly as many of them treated Jews in the 1930's. Perhaps my children will be too shocked to eat when they see the videos that I scrolled by this morning.
There are no answers, but I know I need to do better. I need to pray better, and give better, and love better. I need to create better, and vote better, and protest better. Most of all, I need to grieve better. I need to be willing to carry a little more sorrow, enough to stir me into action. God knows that I will be looking back at me in twenty years; history will remember what I and countless others like me did, and I will remember what I did not do. I pray that page is blank, and I must find the courage to make it so.