Friday, May 22, 2009

Honoring Those Past

So I was talking to Heather yesterday, and something kinda hit me. She was complaining about having to read the gruesome (nevertheless true) stories about the Holocaust. At first I sympathized with her...she did show me a passage in the book that sort of illustrated the horrors seen and heard throughout the genocide.

Part of the aversion to reading about such things, I think, is because we know that we are helpless to do anything about it. Every one of those people are long gone, and their pain and cries of despair have long sense ceased to echo through the passages of time. A good book will naturally tug at your heart, and if you cannot do anything to help them, then it seems almost worthless to read the book in the first place.

How, though, does this apply to fiction? With fiction stories we can console ourselves by saying that it really didn't happen, and the pain depicted is, well, fictional. It's much easier to sit back and enjoy the ride with fiction stories, simply because it didn't really happen.

But the Holocaust did happen. People were senselessly murdered, slaughtered, for no reason other than Pride. The greatest sin of all.

I think that the pain of the Holocaust has naturally lessened because of the time that has passed. Every moment that passes after 9/11, the pain grows less and less.

But is that right? Should the past slowly slip into obscurity, succumbing to the overpowering waves of apathy and ignorance?

I don't think so.

If you were caused great offense, would you want it ignored and forgotten? Wouldn't the fact that people are ignoring you make the pain that much worse? It seems that the best cure for pain is to tell someone else about it, and have them carry a little bit of your pain off on their back.

It sort of relates back to the Doctrine of Substituted Love that we learned about in Decent into Hell. For those of you who haven't read the book (I do recommend it), there is a girl named Pauline who is going through considerable trouble. She tells a guy named Stanhope about it, and he empathizes her---in an extreme way. He sort of begins to go through the pain that she goes through, and feels what she feels. All the while, Pauline feels her load lightened and is set free from her burdens. Stanhope becomes a sacrificial lamb; he takes her sin and bears it for her.

How does this relate back to what we're talking about?

The voice of those who suffered in the Holocaust cry out in pain. Their pain never goes away, but our perception of it does. The anguish caused by the lives lost on 9/11 never really goes away. Like I said, every step away from that day merely lessens our perception of the pain. It's still there, it's just getting ignored.

Can we, 60 years later, actually lessen the pain of the Holocaust by merely listening to the voices? By learning their struggles, bearing their pain? Can we experience, in the smallest measure, the extent of their torture and promise to bear it for them?

If we learn, if we listen, if we empathize, than I believe that the pain of the Holocaust, and other (true) stories like it, is lessened.

So go read a true story. Go listen to an honest tale. And bear a little more suffering and darkness away on your back.



Frank Morgan said...

The lessening of one's emotional attachment, or pain, of something due to the passage of time can be said for almost everything. Is it only human to lose such attachment or pain, just because one hasn't experienced the incident or enough time has gone by to close up some of the emotional wounds?

In my opinion, time can be known as the great healer. What I mean is that with enough time, almost anything can be dealt with. This is no excuse to forget the pain anyone went through, or to discount any type of sympathy we should have for someone who went through something so horrible as the Holocaust. With that in mind, I don't think we, as humans, mean to lose compassion for things because of time. I think that is part of our nature, in referring to time as the great healer. Hearts do heal. Emotions do calm. Pain does subside. The question is then, that is it wrong for that to happen. I think not. I think that if we focus too much on past pain, and desire to bring it up too much, old wounds may open again. I believe through educational books that have been out, and even through to the Museum of Tolerance, we have found a good balance between feeling sympathy, but still being able to move on and look to the future.
We must also keep in mind that God allowed something like that to happen. For some reason unbeknownst to the world. not saying we should be happy about it, but just not to dwell too much on the horrors.
Lastly, to put the argument of human nature in a different perspective, humans act much the same way in respect to joy and pain. Say we get a gift. We enjoy that gift for perhaps a week, or a month before we grow tired of it. Maybe we are treating sympathy for disasters and horrors the same?

Sorry for the long comment. it wasn't going to start out this long. I just went on a writing streak. Know that I do agree with and understand what you say. And ultimately, our culture today has a knack for clinging on to the next horrible disaster we see. Then it was the Holocaust, a few years ago it was 9/11, now it is the Economy, and soon the world will realize it is President Obama ;) (did you see that bit of nasty comedy i threw in there? did you see it?? haha)

Cree said...

Some good thoughts Frankie...
I wonder if it isn't the fact that time does heal that is the problem, but how, exactly, it does. For Christians, time may bring about conviction and a desire to make things right with God. If we give our pain up to Him, then He is the great Healer, not time itself. Time merely forces us to turn around and face the problem.

But if time, for non-Christians, merely forces them to bury the emotions deep within themselves and, eventually, forget them, then I think we have a problem. Buried emotions can be fingered as the cause of many, many problems that individuals face. Depression, anger, thoughts of suicide all stem from not confronting those long buried (but not entirely forgotten) pains.

It is important to move on. But we must deal with that pain in a Christian was: giving it up to God. He, not time, is the great Healer.

Lilz said...

Happy birthday.

Hit Counter!