Arbeit March of the Living that your emotions will

Arbeit Macht Frei. Work
sets you free. This is the lie that sparked false
hope in the hearts of millions as they walked through the gates of Auschwitz
death camp in Poland almost directly to their death. This lie is a spit in the
face to those oppressed. It is a cruel, cowardly phrase read by so many who
perished in the holocaust. My people walked through that gate. And over 70
years later, so did I.

 

They say it is life changing. They say
you will be shaken. They warn you before you embark on the March of the Living
that your emotions will be tested.

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I arrived, so grateful for my
opportunity, feeling emotionally ready, feeling strong. Throughout my time in
Poland, visiting numerous camps, ghettos, mass graves and atrocities hard to
believe existed without seeing them for yourself, I only cried once. My
preconceived idea was that I would be an emotional wreck at every stop, but for
some reason, as mind-blowing as it all was, I did not cry. When I returned
home, no doubt moved by what I had experienced, life continued as normal. I did
not experience any lasting ‘side-effects.’ As much as I wanted to believe it,
my life had not changed. But now, nearly a year later, I see the full impact ‘March
of the Living’ had on me and how it has altered my perception of the world
drastically.

 

I tried to use this trip as a
springboard to connect more with God, and that may have been successful in the
short term, but in the long term, it has had an opposite effect. What I saw in
those two weeks has made me question everything I have ever been taught to
think about this world. The atrocities performed in the holocaust were so
unspeakable, so evil, I cannot see how a God could possibly exist and let
something like this happen. If God does exist, where was he during the
holocaust? Where was he during the Spanish Inquisition? 9/11? Holodomor? The
Cambodian Genocide? The Armenian Genocide? The Rwandan Genocide?

The list is endless.

If God is real, he is either
indifferent to the suffering of man, or the catalyst.

 

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not
able? Then he is not omnipotent. 
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is
malevolent. 
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh
evil? 
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him
God?”
? Epicurus

The world is a dark place. Humanity has cast a
shadow over itself, providing a cloak of invisibility to the evils that operate
out of the range of the ignorant eye. We live in a godless world, under a false
impression that we are important. That we are superior. We follow a hollow
philosophy that dictates the way we should live our lives, and limits our
scientific understanding of the planet, and universe we call our own. We
attribute the validity of this philosophy known as religion, to the fact that
we are born into a specific community that happens to practise one of its many
forms. We extract our morality from a book that impedes on our definition of
human rights, is homophobic, sexist and bends the laws of the universe in its
subjective account of history.

 

 

 

Religion offers a justification to those who
behead free thinkers for denouncing their faith. For the beating of strong,
independent women who do not obey their ‘husbands’ every wish. For the stoning
and discrimination of peaceful human beings whose definition of love takes on a
different form to what is considered ‘pure.’ Religion allows for threats to the
wellbeing, liberty and freedom of millions, to be dismissed due to political
correctness and taboo.

 

If there ever existed a just and caring, his
intervention in this world became dormant eons ago. We, the all-powerful,
self-righteous, self-centered, ‘perfect’ human race, are no more than a species
of primate. No more than half a chromosome away from chimpanzees, who are
considered ‘beneath us.’ We live as if everything on this planet exists to
serve us, and that we were created in the image of a divine being. I can
understand this analogy, as 99% of the species to ever experience life on this
earth have died out. Every second a star explodes. It makes sense that humanity
is ‘created’ in the image of a god that is wasteful and destructive, and this
is evident in our treatment of our planet, the animals and plants that share in
our accommodation, and our brothers and sisters who we see as enemies, purely
because of our differences in race, ethnicity, beliefs or gender. We seem to
miss the fact that we all fall under the same umbrella, humanity, and if we
take that one step further – life.

 

 

While religion and god, may be a fallacy in the
eyes of some, in the eyes of others it is a burning passion to put the needs of
a fellow man before their own. It is a means to appreciate and learn the vast
beauties of life and relationships, while instilling a humility that is only
cause for inspiration. While some people may be shackled in what seems to be an
inescapable prison of suffering, there are those among us who see their freedom
as a responsibility to others less fortunate, rather than a right. There are
those who consider themselves humanists, who find a duty in their contribution
to the preservation and exponential growth of the human race as a whole,
without the help of religion or god. And there are those who recognise that
giving is the best gift one can receive, and, in fact, benefits the giver much
more than the receiver. There are those who dismiss their own suffering as a
simple glitch of mankind’s worst enemy, their minds. Men like Epictetus whose
words “we suffer not from the events in our lives, but from our judgement of
them,” have empowered millions through generations to escape the chains they
perceive to be bound by, as well as men like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther
King Jnr who’s dreams and visions not only shattered the physical restraints,
tying down the unlimited potential of our species, but inspired thousands to
follow suit. There are women like Malala Yousafzai who stood her ground against
the raging horns of evil to empower millions around her to escape their endless
cycle of submission and inferiority, as well as women like Mother Teresa whose
activism, insight, compassion and tremendous selflessness to humanity embodied
a true definition of the word ‘saint.’

 

We are so obscenely lucky to be given a small
section, in the infinitely large book of existence, dedicated specifically to
us. We only get an odd 70 lines in a page preceded by over 13 billion, and as
soon as we recognise that we are a part of this great piece of literature, that
we have a role to play, whether that role is decided by an omniscient being, or
by the meaning in the life we govern for ourselves, that we have a duty to this
one small piece that we can write into the document of existence, the world
will be a better place. Humanity will begin to redefine its self-determined
differences, and the earth and all its inhabitants, will fall under the same
category. Life.

 

I do not associate myself with any sort of
‘ism.’ I think for myself. As I begin to open my mind to everything surrounding
me, I am beginning to see the world in a different light. Every person is imprisoned
in his or her own eyes, handcuffed by his or her personal experiences. But
there is a key to this seemingly unbreakable lock.

You can see the world as Adolf Hitler, or you
can see the world as Nelson Mandela.

Both men recognizing the differences in people;
however, each living at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Perspective, being the key.