Holocaust Remembrance 2016: Too Much Knowledge Not The Problem But The Solution
On the 27 January 2016 we commemorate the lives of 6 million Jews, Roma, Homosexuals and all victims of Nazi’s crimes against humanity.
As time goes by and the number of survivors decline, our responsibility to remember grows. But our duty is not only to remember their suffering but to reaffirm the idea that those who do not share our ideas, our faith or our ethnicity, share our humanity.
We also commemorate to learn from the heroes who risked or lost their lives for others. Those who recognized our common Humanity and became an example of commitment to Liberty and freedom. We are determined to follow their path and emulate them to the best of our abilities.
In the millenary Hebrew language there is no literal translation to History. Instead it’s called Zikaron which means – “Memory”. this word gives us a better understanding what we do when we commemorate. It’s not enough to recall a part of history which we fear that it may be forgotten but instead we make it our memory, we engrave it in our very essence so as to never allow such horror to happen again.
If we take a moment and reflect on the European dream even with its flaws, committed to promote Liberty and Freedom, actively working to give meaning to the words “Never Again”, we know that dreaming for a perfect world it’s not in vain.
When we look at pre war pictures in history books of members of the Nazi party, well dressed with suits and ties, they seem like people you would meet on a typical morning taking their coffee getting ready for their work as civil servants of a government representing a respectful and educated nation.
At first sight its extremely puzzling to understand how people that look modern and like minded can be involved in such evil actions against children, women and civilians in any way? It’s even more perplexing when we realize that this polished, shiny looking people perpetrated the worst genocide in the history of humanity.
Much has been written about this. Some suggest that the worst comes especially from the banality of people when they refuse to care about the consequences of their actions. Some speak of the danger of blindly following leaders, just because they say it in a high tone and when people are afraid to contest authority. others see this as the outcome of 2 millennia of hatred inflamed against Jews which enabled a lunatic leader to easily promote a “final solution” to the “Jewish question”. Some suggested that this was the cause of a society with foundations made solely of rationality with no faith to mitigate the flaws of human mind culminating in a selfish and perverse disrespect of life.
This is surely an important debate but allow me if i may, to add another layer to this discussion from an age old idea for universal peace which was much discussed by Jewish philosophers during the middle ages in Spain, France, Germany and elsewhere. A genuine European idea.
“Knowledge” Jewish philosophers prescribed as the best antidote for human conflict.
The central interest of a living creature is to survive and prosper. Most clashes between people seem to originate when their self centered interested is in danger.
When limited resources cannot satisfy the needs of many people, then you will end up with winners and looses. The cake may seems too small for them to share. and the battle begins.
Maimonides believed that a great amount of diverse knowledge may help us solve most conflicts. More knowledge of life, history, the natural world, astronomy and the understanding of the human mind, his feelings and most basic impulses, he argued, would shed light to the obscure universe of human nature, illuminating new ways of how groups in opposite sides can both achieve their own interest while allowing the other to attain his own good. and even assisting each other reaching their goal.
Education can helps us identify new resources which can bring more prosperity to all.
He said that global peace can only come as a result of an “inundation” of knowledge in the world.
Maimonides called that “the knowledge of God” – as all the existence is part of the divine. Therefore he considered that, by observing the universe, accepting evidence and even experimenting was not only a way to reach a scientific grandeur but also a spiritual exercise as the ultimate pursuit of truth.
I am sure that we have much to learn from that today, especially when modern technology gives us the means.
Knowing too much it is far from being the problem, I am confident that it is the solution, or a part of it. together with values of freedom and equality.
Atrocities in the second world war were not made on the name of knowledge, but on the name of hatred and dogmatism. Instead they took some ideas and held them as hostages to excuse their evil agenda.
Global education, if boosted by healthy economies, with an emphasis on our common humanity, should result in more tolerance.
If we discover new sources of energy we will have less conflict for natural resources.
If we learn the history of nations and religions we will find that we are essentially alike and will dissolve grounds for fundamentalism.
The one thing in common you can find in extremists and fundamentalists it’s not oppression or suffering. But all too often is ignorance.
So if we want to assure a peaceful world to future generations. we me must consider global education as our main strategy, not only in our part of the world but in the world over, because any long term stable strategy involves all sides to adhere. Therefore Education should be the heart of our foreign policy.
Even when it’s difficult to be optimist for a peaceful world we should dedicate our effort and ideas, like Einstein once wrote, to the point of fanaticism, to reach this noble goal.
Because the life of a single individual anywhere in the world is equally sacred and should awake the same degree of responsibility.
Today we say that the flame of hope will not be extinguished.