Sometimes I find that I compartmentalize different historical figures and events, often forgetting that many events occurred at the same time as other consequential things, and many historical figures lived simultaneously, yet my mind seems to place very differently. I guess it was only a few months ago that I discovered that Martin Luther King Jr. born the same year as Anne Frank. I think of them as different people by the fact that they were different ages at their most influential, and their influences are separated by multiple decades. While alive they were virtually the same age, but in death they seem crystallized as members of different generations, to me at least. They both represent a unifying ideal in the face of oppression, and when studied they are both proven to be very human individuals who had flaws.
My friend Gavin posted a very thoughtful blurb in regards to Ms. Frank and the 70th anniversary of her incarceration – which was on August 4th, 2014. I thought that it would be worth re-sharing:
On August 1, 1944 (about year after my Father Ron was born) Anne Frank wrote her last diary entry. Millions of lives have been changed by the writings of this typical teenage girl who was willing to be honest, vulnerable, and search for forgiveness. Tomorrow, on Aug. 4th, seventy years ago she and her family were arrested and later sent to concentration camps. -GR “Often, reading Anne Frank’s diary is the way in which young people first learn about the horrors of the Nazi genocide. Just as importantly, young readers understand that these crimes were visited upon a girl much like themselves and their friends — a girl who was often in conflict with her mother, a girl who kept vowing to be a more patient and forgiving person, a girl who fell in love for the first time. A girl who wanted to be a writer — and who was one.” -Francine Prose CNN #neverforget
I find it maddening that we still live in a world where there are groups of people who don’t seem able to escape tribalistic oppression from their own communities, or from their assumed enemies. I don’t like to think of myself as tribalistic, but in those moments when I am faced with my own humanity out of fear I usually find that I can be rather tribalistic, and I think that we are generally built that way.
I have shared this video several times before, but it seems very relevant for those who have the time to watch it:
The outrage that is so often expressed for the senseless oppression of a child, and many more like her is what makes Anne Frank’s diary such an amazing artifact. What if that same oppression still existed today in different forms? How would you feel? What would you do differently? Pedigree, belief systems, and birthplace can quite literally doom adolescents everyday, as it did 70 years ago. And might we just for a moment address that just because someone is not a child does not make it any less heinous that they be killed senselessly. There are more human beings enslaved today than ever before… That means more slaves than at the peak of the Civil War or during the construction of the pyramids. Of course we have a lot more people in the world, but that is not hyperbole, those are real live numbers! Most of the slave trade consists of young girls, just like Anne Frank… And as the world again finds unrest in the Middle East, most predictably in Israel, there are children who are being killed every single day.
The current fighting in Gaza between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples is a tragic example of tribalism – and this fight in many ways has been overly simplified by many, the Western Media in particular. What if both sides have innocent blood on their hands, and that by inserting ourselves in the fight we are adding fuel to the flame? Wouldn’t that be a bad thing?
I don’t think that these sides are equal and opposite to one another, that would be far too convenient. I do however think that as long as we speak about intending to prevent human tragedies we should speaking honestly about real events and their real consequences. Far more innocent Muslims have been killed in this fighting. Are you ok with that, and if so why? I wonder how many Anne Franks might have been saved, regardless of race and creed, if we would have acted differently…