Humanity and Horror
I recently got back from a family vacation in Washington D.C. While there, we did the usual historical sightseeing things...the Smithsonians, the White House, the Capital, the monuments. We also went to Arlington National Cemetary and the Holocaust Museum.
I had been to Arlington National Cemetary before and remembered it as one of my favorite places to visit in DC. When telling my 11 year old son about it, he found it strange that it would be a favorite place to visit...being a cemetary and all. But there is just something peaceful to me there even though many of the dead are as a result of man's brutality to man. Walking amongst the white gravestones, reading the captions, looking at the rolling hills, and glimpsing the monuments of DC in the distance just fills me with peace and even hope. I don't know why, it's just how it is. It fills me with gratitude for those who fought to preserve my way of life, for those who showed a bravery that I can't imagine, for those who died with so much living still to do.
The Holocaust Museum, on the other hand, was not something that could be "enjoyed" in any way; but, instead, something that I felt a need to experience. It was horrific. But, I needed to see it and have my kids see it. I wanted them to know that there are people out there who are able to do such horrendous things to other people. That there are people who exist who feel no regret or responsibility for their actions. That there are people who can treat another human being with depravity and degradation. I know they won't understand it, because I certainly can't, but they needed to know that it exists.
When we left the Holocaust Museum, we were like "now what?" What do we do now...get an ice cream? Enjoy the beautiful weather? Traipse through another museum looking at ladies' ballgowns? Suddenly, things seemed rather inconsequential. Yet, we did exactly that. Because those of us here must continue to live, to experience, to enjoy what life has to offer. Yet, we can still remember, and be aware, and strive to prevent future atrocities.
When I think of the "bad" in the world, I always end up thinking of the "good". Maybe it's self defense, maybe it's denial, I like to think of it as hope...