Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don't forget to remember

Simon Wiesenthal spent 4 1/2 years in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. While imprisoned, Wiesenthal suffered the loss of both his wife and several relatives, practically leaving him alone in the world.

One day, while stationed at a camp for liberated prisoners, Wiesenthal stumbled across a situation that would change his life forever. In an attempt to file a complaint with U.S. officials for being mistreated by a Polish officer, Wiesenthal walked into a meeting in which U.S. officials were interrogating Nazi soldiers.

Wiesenthal at the time weighed 99 pounds and looked near death. Yet in spite of all this, Wiesenthal found the strength to ask the U.S. officials if he could be of any help. The officials, who probably felt sorry for the 99 pound Wiesenthal, asked him to contribute whatever information he thought might be useful. What Wiesenthal did next was amazing.With nothing more than a simple type-writer, and a memory that refused to forget, Wiesenthal complied a list of thousands of people who were either Nazi criminals, or the victims of Nazi criminals.
        After this encounter, Wiesenthal refused to go back to living an ordinary life. In fact, he spent the remainder of his life chasing down Nazi war criminals from one end of world to the other. When Wiesenthal died at the age of 96, he and those who worked with him, managed to bring over one thousand Nazi war criminals to justice.

Why did he do this? There’s probably several reasons, but one thing seems certain,  given enough time, people are willing to forget about anything, even if it's to their own hurt, or the hurt of others.

Weisenthal’s life teaches us that painful memories can be overcome. Not only can they be overcome, but they can be used as touchstones that remind us to make a difference in the world. None of us is exempt of having to live with unpleasant memories. Fortunately, all of us get to choose how we live with those memories.
Consider Jacob, who in an attempt to escape the clutches of Esau, determined that it was better to appeal to God, than to someone who couldn’t forgive him. This Holy man with a “history", discovered that menacing memories don’t have to be confronted on their terms. Painful pasts will fight us tooth and nail to keep God out of the picture; we should respond by making God the central figure of the picture.

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