Lesson on forgiveness…

The Independence Day in Warsaw was marked by sunshine and violent clashes between anarchists and neo-nazi groupings, whose demonstrating marches’ paths across the city wound past the hotel, where the conference I am attending is being held. We were advised not to leave the hotel during lunch, even though by then they should have moved towards the city center, and to be careful in the evening if we needed to relocate – so serious was the situation. Not only Polish protesters were there – tens of thousands of people from all over Europe had come to participate. So far from the Polish news we got that 17 policemen (who had to tackle the crowds in full anti-riot gear) were injured…

Earlier today one of the conference participants had suggested that on this memorable day (and date – 11.11.11), all of the participants born before 1945 (inclusively) could come up front and in a gesture of our common goal here on Earth (same old peace, happiness, harmony and love stuff) ask each other for forgiveness (in their own language) for their generations’ hatred (even though they themselves were too young to directly participate in any of the active manifestations of this hatred) on their behalf, and also forgive themselves for being a part of that war generation. It was symbolic – conference participants are already, regardless of their countries of origin, religion, age, gender, language and so forth, basically all old friends. In the light, however, of the impending clashes between the youth, which they fuel on hatred just as symbolic, but nonetheless potent enough to still cause deaths and injuries to people, as well as discriminatory practices, it was a lesson that many across the globe might benefit from learning…

When honor killings are dragging on to this day, while even the original causes of ‘dishonor’ are already forgotten; when an Irish Catholic hates (beats up, kills…) a fellow Irish Protestant for no other better reason than symbolic hatred passed on from preceding generations; when all over the world people hate other people simply because their great grand-fathers also did so (and those did because their own great-grand fathers did… And those, usually, did because of some ridiculous mistake, doctrine, misunderstanding or myth…); when hatred-escalation that is in-built into our psychology is allowed to go out of hand and manifest itself in such unspeakable scenarios as in the former Yugoslavia or Rwanda – learning to forgive may be the only life-saving tool left to us worth trying…

I recall when a Holocaust survivor spoke at our school (and it’s a crying shame that the full history of the Holocaust in not taught worldwide in due detail, for it is an enormous lesson for humanity…). She didn’t go into any specific gruesome details and her telling was not as emotional as one could expect, but she did mention the inhumane conditions in the camp and how she was treated. Rape and torture over the course of several years pretty much sum her story up…

One of the questions someone asked her after she finished was whether she hated the  Germans and the SS officers who treated her this way and who tortured and killed other people in the camp, including her friends and relatives. She said no. She said, first of all, many Germans were helping those like her and generally were good people, even during the war. As for the SS and other camp personnel – she said she forgave them… Those men, said she, were only carrying out the orders, and it was war time. Besides, said she, hatred was such a heavy burden to carry – she had already had enough to deal with in her life, she saw no use or comfort in wasting her health and energy on nurturing hatred in her heart and mind on top of it all, and not much life left to live to waste it on such self-inflicted torture…

I remember I thought to myself that if this woman could forgive for what all had been done to her, then I doubt there can exist any other person (including myself) who can ever have a more solid case for holding the grudge against someone else anywhere on this planet…

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About in shade

A cocktail of personality traits hard to digest for some but ultimately soothing for those who can. I observe, enjoy, travel, interact, photograph, dance, contemplate, write and love my way through this life's countless occurrences. This blog is a way to share with the world and its people some of the treasures they give me every day.
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