Never Again – by Stuart Portman
November 16, 2010 Leave a comment
My brother, Stuart, wrote a reflection on “Never Again” for the University of Denver’s new Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site. His words and message are amazingly beautiful and powerful. I’m proud of him – and once you read what we has to say, I’m certain you will start thinking about your role in keeping Never Again a reality.
Never Again. Two words of enormous strength, but a strength that is faltering. To those who lived through the atrocities of the Holocaust, Never Again is not a mere slogan, but a way of life. This should never become a pluralistic, mundane expression of sorrow, as the moment people forget what really transpired to cause that phrase to form, the woes of a people will be truly lost. The Holocaust must never occur again, yet what do we do to stop that? Why do governments and money and social inequalities dictate what is important and what will pass, what is worth fighting for, and what is left best unresolved. Money can be burned; hate is forever ingrained in the minds of those who blindly follow it.
In modern times, people exclaim “Never Again” to show that all hate and every instance of inhumanity should never occur again. And while this is true, the deeper thread that binds us is that few of those who decry genocide have ever suffered from its icy grasp. We watch it from our televisions, or stream it online, or read about it in the newspapers. But what do we know of those horrors? Can we do something about it? I am just one person; what can I possibly achieve? The answer, however, is that you can achieve whatever you passionately put your heart into. If you are not afraid of hearing the word ‘no’, then you cannot be stopped. You may hit roadblocks, but there is always a solution, somewhere in that dark, lonely place. Refusing to accept defeat is the greatest value that we can impress onto future generations. Teaching them of the nightmares that their grandparents, great-grandparents, other relatives, and friends lived through is enough to shock someone into a lifetime’s work towards social justice. Forgetting what transpired seems impossible; sadly, this is not the case. As the generations of Holocaust survivors age, it is clear that I will live in a day when Holocaust survivors do not. But that does not mean that the impact will be less. Not if we fight against the tyranny and complacency that led to such devastation to begin with.
The Holocaust itself has passed, but we are still entrenched in a battle for Jewish survival. Hatred abounds today in a global scale the likes of which has never been seen before, due to technology. Instead of different groups of people around the world deploring Judaism and the Jewish way of life separately, they now have the capacity to connect, and thus foster each other. They are like leeches of hate, working together to kill the same entity. We as a people must not let them attack, attach, and drain us of our foundations, our beliefs, or our communities. This “we” does not simply imply Jews; ignorance and bitter discrimination affect everyone. There is no such thing as an innocent by-stander, and if you do not formally and openly fight hatred, then you cultivate it. For this is the true lesson of the Holocaust: Over 6 million Jews, and millions of others were massacred, dehumanized, and butchered at the hands of a few malicious men and women with a foolish notion of superiority. No time seemed like the right time to intervene, so the world watched as Europe was burned by a holocaust, a sweeping fire of propaganda-fueled hate that decimated everyone in its path, either through ideology or physical death. If we do not stand up to injustices with actions, not just words, then hatred has already won. Never Again is not just a motto; it is a way of life.