I received an email yesterday that had this comic strip in it:
It touched me deeply.
This time in history is so incomprehensible to me, that I am ashamed to say that I have avoided learning about it. I recall flipping through the channels a few years ago and stumbling across a PBS special on the Holocaust. It was like driving by the scene of a horrible accident; I couldn’t stop looking. The scenes that passed in front of me on the screen paralyzed me in disbelief and horror. People who had been stripped of everything, including their dignity, were paraded before my eyes. Naked mothers and fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, children, friends… all standing in line waiting to walk to their deaths.
These people loved, I remember thinking. These people laughed, they ran, they kissed, they made love and had children, they…lived. The terrible tragedy washed over me as tears rolled down my face. I was in a melancholy state for several days after; still unable to comprehend the horrific things mankind is capable of doing.
I just finished reading a beautiful novel by Nicole Krauss called The History of Love. I found the book on Mat Kearney’s website (http://www.matkearney.com). Since I find his music hauntingly beautiful, I was curious about what he reads. If I had known that one of the main characters in the book was a Polish Jew whose entire family, his entire village, were murdered by German soldiers, I seriously do not know if I would have ordered the book. That is how powerfully this affects me. I am not a strong enough person to carry the burden of this truth inside of me. I experience the guilt and the shame that the perpetrators shunned. I experience the sorrow and the anger of the victims. This is what it means to have this gift of living inside of a story, this curse of empathy. By saying this, I in no way pretend to be able to experience the full horror of what these beautiful people endured. I would never wish to belittle their experience, or that of their loved ones. I only wish to convey the full extent of my emotional reaction. Even now I am crying.
But Krauss’s soulful voice compelled me to read on. Again, like one witnessing a trauma, I was unable to turn away. I cried through most of the story. Not even because much of it was sad (though much of it was), but because it was impossible for me to separate Krauss’s fictional story from the many nameless faces that I saw on that PBS special.
It is a terrible thing to have this feeling of helplessness inside of me. Just today, I was telling a friend: “I’m not a political person. I’m not smart enough to be one. I just want to bring Jesus to people. That’s all I want to do.”
But we cannot ignore the fact that, even now, there is genocide taking place on this earth. There are crimes against humanity occurring right now, that are so heinous they defy the imagination. As I sit in my warm house and type these words, children are dying. Terrible things happen every day.
You are not helpless, no matter what lies are being whispered in your ear. Be His hands. Be His feet. Be His mouth. There are so many ways.