Voices all around!
In the evening I watched a powerful documentary on CNN which focused on four survivors of the Holocaust.
While listening to all the voices on the buses, in the bank and check out lines – not choosing to eavesdrop, but people sometimes are so loud you cannot but hear, two things came to my heart: first I recalled the powerful scene in the movie “The King’s Speech” where ‘King George’ bellows: “I HAVE A VOICE!”, and second was struck by how vital inter-personal dialogue is for every human being.
Mostly the poor, the homeless, the dependent on state welfare do not, or if they do it is often muted because their voice is mostly reduced to pleading their case for assistance or begging on some street corner or at the door of some church for spare change, experience ‘having a voice!’
Rarely do the non-muted voices among us engage them in real conversation, seek out their story, and show recognition of them as persons, as ones like ourselves.
One of the perhaps not stressed enough aspects of the Holy Gospels is of Jesus the listener to the poor, the rejected, the hurting; of Jesus the converser with them.
So what voices did I hear on the buses and in the lines at the bank and grocery store?
I heard the voices of the poor, the mentally ill, the addicted, the injured, the widowed, the single parent, the angry, the depressed, the lonely.
Whom did I hear?
The Christ of many disguises present in each person who is a brother, a sister of mine.
Did I recognize, willingly, anyone as one like myself and converse with them?
Of course, though sometimes such as with those in rough shape because of drugs or mental illness, it took an effort to overcome automatic inner reactions of recoiling, nonetheless I would speak, mostly though listen, when possible, and always smile.
Did I see beauty and Jesus before me?
I note how I reacted, what I did and saw to make the point it is how we are with others, that is BE with others which most powerfully reveals Christ and the Gospel to them
Witnessing by presence to other is more powerful than words.
Ah, the voices of the survivors of the holocaust in the documentary, as proving the point, impacted, impact me still less than seeing them – the witness of their very aliveness!
“Voices of Auschwitz” is the title of the CNN documentary which first brought back memories and then taught something wonderful about the human person, particularly those interviewed in the documentary.
The first memory is from when I was about five years old and saw some of the first still pictures about the death-camps. I was visiting my favourite Aunt and Uncle and asked why all the people in the pictures were naked, not understanding they were images of murdered people.
My Aunt gently explained how they were dead, not naked by choice, but the evil actions of the Nazi and how it was to stop those who committed such evil that my father and uncles had gone to war.
The second memory is being present at a talk given by a woman survivor of Dachau and the Rabbi of her synagogue, and while the woman spoke about her time in the camp, her life since then as wife, mother, grandmother, the Rabbi spoke about the theological/faith challenges posed by the immensity of the Shoah.
The three women and the man who were, truly are, the “Voices of Auschwitz” took my breath away, not primarily by the content of what they told, more it was the powerful dignity and radiant beauty on each of their faces.
The faces of evil, ISIS being currently a prime example duplicating the Nazis before them, are dark, angry, and almost unhuman.
The faces of those who have been assaulted by evil and come through evil’s attempts to destroy reveal the true beauty of the human person made in the image and likeness of God.
Joy, strength, courage, dignity shine forth from such of our brothers and sisters be they survivors of the death camps or any other horror.
True not all who survive get beyond the evil to a place of new life and peace.
Some victims of evil remain broken their entire post the horror lives.
This is why we must never forget those who laid down, lay down, their lives to keep us safe and secure be they military or police; why we must never forget the holocaust and stand firmly against anti-Semitism in all its guises; why we must be people who love and never hate and defend life from conception to natural death.
Why too, for today as I finish writing this the world is confronted by another ISIS act of brutality in the murder of the Jordanian pilot, we must pray for an end to Islamic terrorism everywhere it sheds blood and sows hatred around the world.