A few years ago, I visited Auschwitz. My ex and I went on a short trip into Poland. She was pregnant with our daughter and we didn’t really have a plan except to get away for a long weekend. We sort of bumped into Auschwitz really and soon discovered there was nowhere with room for us to stay. I recall we ended up staying as paying guests in someone’s home. The next day, we did the visit. The atmosphere there is dark, glum, silent, heavy. The blustery weather didn’t make it any better. Depressing. I was relieved to leave.
It’s a place everyone should go to. It isn’t at all difficult once there to understand the depths of evil and depravity that even rather ordinary people can descend to if given the opportunity. Humanity can be truly evil. Yet, whenever I read someone expressing hatred for humanity or wishing us all dead as a virus or whatever word they use to describe us, I react quite strongly, for humanity also has the ability to rise to a nobility of goodness. Humans can be kind, loving and generous. And without an Auschwitz, we would not be able to compare and see the goodness in people – the light of their souls. Opposites allow us to compare.
The funny thing is that as I observe humanity it seems that while our tendency to evil is collective, the ability to be good seems individual. It is when in group mode, group-think, that somehow the personal compass of love and compassion so often gets lost. Maybe it is just how I see it? But when I think of the evil done in the name of ‘religions’ and contrast that to the good done by individual religious people, perhaps you see my point.
In the end, being human is to be flawed and imperfect. We live our lives mostly swimming with the current afraid to be different or to stand out. Occasionally perhaps, we rise above that and connect with our inner selves and in that moment perhaps realize we are all one connected life force. It’s not that humanity is a virus or a curse – something to be exterminated. It is that humanity is a miracle of life in which we can find love, hope and the light. But we find it within ourselves when we are still and composed. It is then that we know that we can correct our mistakes and flaws, confront our individual and collective darkness, and excel.