“Never again” is a statement of regret, remorse, and lament. We use it to talk about foods we’ve tried, experiences we’ve had, places we’ve visited, relationships we’ve endured and more. Today, I use it to speak of an unimaginably horrific tragedy of modern civilization—the slaughter of 6 million Jews in Europe between 1933 and 1945.
Every year around the 27th of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, I pause for two hours in the middle of a busy schedule to remember, to reflect and to repeat—“Never Again.” As one of a handful of Gentiles in a Jewish crowd, I’m honored to be invited each year to participate in the Annual Holocaust Memorial service in my community. I usually read a poem, say a prayer or speak about why I regularly take people to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. I treasure this opportunity as a Christian pastor (with a Jewish great-great grandmother) to be included in this most solemn Jewish remembrance service.
Again this year, I was thankful to slow down, stop and reflect in our fast-paced world and remember that if we want to know where we are heading, we have to know where we have come from. As this year’s speaker, Dr. Paul Bartrop said, “We can’t change our world history. It is what it is. But we can learn from it.” He went on to say, “Ignorance will triumph if we forget.” If our country or any other country insists on only one politically correct viewpoint, another holocaust is the potential result.
Each year, I meet interesting and memorable people. I’ve sat with Holocaust survivors and looked at the wrist-tattooed identification numbers inscribed by the Nazi guards at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. I’ve listened to a Jewish widow as she showed me her wedding pictures that included Oskar Schindler (the subject of the award-winning 1993 Steven Spielberg movie Schindler’s List) as her husband’s best man. I’ve met the sons and daughters of parents who never made it out of the gas chambers and death camps.
“Never again” has been the mantra of many over the past sixty plus years. Most of us can’t imagine something so horrific as the murderous rampage that went on for more than a decade in central Europe while many stood watching silently or turning their faces the other way. We wonder how that can happen and so many be so complicit. Yet, since the Holocaust of Europe, we’ve had similar genocide tragedies in Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Burma and recently in Syria. Not to forget—the brutal destruction of millions of unborn humans every single year right here in America.
Don’t forget. Every time we participate in or even allow ethic joking or bullying of someone who is different or weaker, it can reappear. The diseases of bigotry, hate, immorality and bloodlust have a way of infecting our culture and the symptoms manifesting in unexpected moments when we let our guard down.
Every time we value and worship our Creator and honor His precious creations, we are remembering. We are remembering that God loves each and every person of every race, gender and background. We are refusing to forget that God’s greatest commandment is to love Him with all our heart, soul mind and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
QUESTION: How do you remember to value each person? Please share below.