Wise beyond her years, Anne Frank understood that we are not merely bystanders. Peace unites us. “I don’t believe that the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have rebelled long ago! There’s a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder and kill. And until all of humanity, without exception, undergoes a metamorphosis, wars will continue to be waged, and everything that has been carefully built up, cultivated and grown will be cut down and destroyed, only to start all over again!” – Anne Frank, 1944
Never forget our collective humanity as our distinct identity unites us. There are many religious and secular holidays around the world in the month of December. Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and African to name a few. Let us each pray in our own voice for the students and educators that lost their lives to hatred and intolerance.
The voice of Anne Frank was heard for the first time on CBS in a nationwide broadcast sixty two years ago. “Shattering to the emotions” is how Billboard Magazine described author Meyer Levin’s half hour radio play adaptation of Anne’s Diary. Whether tragic or triumphant, history often reveals a single voice to encourage and unite us as one.
While in hiding with her family from the threat of annihilation under Hitler’s regime, Anne Frank writes of hope, and fear: “…it’s twice as hard for us young ones to hold our ground, and maintain our opinion, in a time when all ideals are being shattered and destroyed, when people are showing their worst side, and do not know whether to believe in truth and right and God.” The death of Anne Frank in 1945 at the Bergen Belsen work camp came to represent the death of all innocence as a result of the Holocaust, of world war. 75 years later the words of Anne Frank continue to inspire students around the world. History is ours to learn from. The future is tied to our hope for lasting peace as long as tolerance unites us. Today, as in 1945, the whole earth waits…
Families unite in their plea for the safe return of hundreds of Nigerian girls taken from school by armed terrorists last month. Thrown into slavery in an act of degradation, we pray for these innocent girls, their families, and neighbors. Stand united together and call for action. Build a more peaceful world where freedom of education is provided without fear.
One of America’s great pastimes, professional basketball, was invaded by grotesque bigotry at the highest level when the owner of the LA Clippers basketball team, Donald Sterling, offended millions of people with his callous, racist remarks that raised our collective stand against intolerance. We’re proud of the team for showing solidarity as men of color, for the fans who stand with them, and to the commissioner of the National Basketball Association for taking swift action. This was not the first racist infraction on the part of Mr. Sterling, and it is as much a cultural issue as a private one, but it is also another occasion to see the fight against intolerance at work. Contemporary education both in schools and at home, and the welcome effect of a collective promise to social responsibility among us has an effect. Lets hope this incident opens the doors in the ongoing dialogue with students about their role in promoting balance in their own community to take with them on their journey through life.
The Holocaust remains a defining moment in the modern history of war and inhumanity for the Western world. Even as the 21st Century has taken root we are reminded to “never forget.” In order to remember we must listen. Today the one-millionth refugee of the Syrian war registered with the UN in Lebanon. Yahya is 18 years old and he arrived with his two sisters and their mother in the largest exodus of refugees in the world today. How can we help Yahya and his family, or the 400,000 other children that await peace to return home? With knowledge as vast as can be found in today’s world we must “never forget” that others in the world are deprived of basic human rights today, and are in need of our prayers to unite through peacekeeping efforts.
How can we forget an event such as the Holocaust when we are reminded every day that there is so much work ahead in our fight to unite against intolerance. Today is one day to remember. Tomorrow is another day to act on it. Spread peace and the message of tolerance within your community, today, and every day in memory of all the innocent lives that have been taken in an act of hatred against one another.
Men and Women who unite the rest of us, like Martin Luther King Jr. who so proudly stood against intolerance and racism, reminds us of our duty to contribute to a more humane, equal, and prosperous society ourselves. Nearly every chance to improve on our future and give a hand up to others less fortunate is right in front us most of the time. Starting with the observance of others in need, followed by that powerful moment when the smallest gesture of respect inspires, spreads, and unites a community.