I am feeling a bit unsettled.
I suppose I only have myself to blame. First I read a fiction novel called Sarah's Key, a fictional story about a Jewish child who was arrested with her parents in Paris, France as part of the now infamous Vel' d'Hiv roundup. Then I read a memoir called The Lost, subtitled "A search for six of six million." It's the story of one man's quest to find out what happened to his great uncle and his family during the holocaust. He grew up hearing stories about this man, and knew that they died during the holocaust, but wanted to see if he could find out exactly how and when. The author travels all around the globe, interviewing those who survived from this one tiny town located in what is now Ukraine, and ultimately is able to find most of what he is looking for. Along the way, of course, he also hears story after story of the horror and cruelty and violence committed against the Jews and anyone else who tried to help them. These cruel acts were often committed against them not by strangers or German soldiers, but by their neighbors and those with whom they regularly interacted and knew.
I felt very similar after reading We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow...., a non-fiction account of the massacre and genocide in Rwanda. Massacre also perpetrated by those who the victims knew best, and even by those who called themselves believers.
I would like to think that I could never be capable of doing something like this, that I would be one who could stand-up and refuse to take part and try to help. Of course it is easy to say now, living in a relatively safe place with a stable government, that I would be. I'd like to think that the indwelling Spirit I have would strengthen my resolve to be able to.
And yet, one thing the author of The Lost writes is that although when you think about something as horrific as the holocaust, it is easy to see it as something that was a top-down movement controlled from above (which in some ways it was), it is also something that occurred because every day individuals made decisions that they were just going to either keep their head down and try to block out the reality surrounding them or participate in some acts of violence that seemed to them perhaps small or unimportant. Even these small acts eventually added up to over six million murdered. Likewise, small acts of resistance resulted in lives saved.
I think I am mostly unsettled because even though I have read a lot of books about the holocaust, the atrocities that occurred continue to shock and horrify me, that humans have the capability inside them for this kind of hatred and violence. In my current existence here, it is easy to think that we don't.
But we do.
Come, Lord Jesus.