Man has always been fascinated by, constrained by, and challenged by rules. We have the code of Hammurabi, the 10 Commandments, the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Code of Canon Law, the Constitution. Rules are usually only used by the rule abiding to measure the severity of broken rules and mete out justice to rule breakers.
I was recently exposed to some new rules. But there is a backstory (isn’t there always?).
My youngest daughter used to read historical fiction about other girls her age. She was mesmerized by American Girl. I think all we ever heard was American Girl doll this, American Girl book that. I got enough catalogues in the mail to heat my home for a week. The librarian in town convinced her to read a different work about Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We’ve been on quite a journey ever since.
From there, we visited a synagogue an hour away. She (with my help) conducted an interview with a female rabbi. We even have yarmulkes from our visit as it was a more liberal congregation (if that’s the proper word). We’ve eaten latkes and explored kosher cooking.
With the exception of a brief hiatus (not brief enough) on Disney’s Frozen, she has read Anne Frank’s diary. We’ve started exploring the Holocaust and Nazis and all the darkness that the human soul can mastermind.
Our latest milestone on this unusual journey was watching Anne Frank’s Holocaust on the History Channel. I love Jewish people, and I deplore to the point of perpetual nausea all the evils of that time that I recall from high school German class and Schindler’s List. Those were two of the darkest hours I have ever spent with my child. I breathed deeply and set my jaw, weeping on the inside, trying to discuss and explain the speechless horrors we saw of neighbor turned against neighbor, majority demonizing a minority, and..
Anyway, one of the last quotes in the show that was repeated without giving attribution (maybe I was still too dazed and horrified) touched me as a human whose bullying and abuse survived pale and turn melodrama queen in comparison to the horrors suffered by Jews… and Catholics and gypsies and homosexuals and the disabled and the mentally ill and the mentally retarded (if I can still use that word in reference to this situation).
So I’ve done a little research. I’ve found the rules in writing, compared them in several sites, and learned a bit about the source.
The source is Yehuda Bauer. He is an acclaimed Holocaust author and scholar today. Born in 1926 in Prague (current Czech Republic), he was reared in a family that loved Jews and was considered Zionist. His father actually spent the 1930s raising money to move his family to then Palestine. In March of 1939, the family got on a train and managed to avoid the Nazis and make it to Palestine. Yehuda Bauer has spent his life studying Judaism, genocide, the Holocaust, and Israel.
The quote is as follows (and it is so deep and meaningful that I will say nothing more about it in this post, although future posts might explore other facets of the truth diamond) and distilled from several sources:
Do not be a perpetrator. Do not be a victim. Above all, do not ever be a bystander.