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Remembering the darkest days

Thursday, April 12, is Yom Hashoah — Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day. 

It’s an important day, a day to take stock of how far the human race has come since the Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews — and millions of others — in World War II.  

Are we more aware of injustices in the world? 

Are we more aware of the dangers of racism and bigotry? 

Are we more aware of how powerful hate can be? 

Are we more humane, compassionate, kinder? 

Are we sure that if such atrocities were ever to occur again we would be able to stand up against them and protect each other?

We’d like to think so, but it’s not so simple. Just look at the refugee crisis around the globe — with people in need being turned away from countries that could instead be providing safe havens. 

Look at immigration — look at the infamous wall being pursued on our border with Mexico. 

Look at the wars being fought in the Middle East and elsewhere. 

Look at the turmoil in Russia and Africa.

Look at the nuclear threat from North Korea.

Look at the terrorism that occurs in every corner of the world, foreign and domestic. 

These are but a few examples.

Hate exists. There is no getting around it. The issue is whether we can rise above our own prejudices and treat each other with respect, dignity and justice.

Yom Hashoah is a good time to consider these issues. The Holocaust was inarguably the darkest time in modern history. For six years, from 1939 to 1945, the Nazis killed — all in pursuit of the final solution — a plan to annihilate all European Jews. The Nazis ended up murdering 6 million Jews — two-thirds of the European Jewish population. They also killed Roma gypsies and Slaves, political and religious dissidents, the handicapped and homosexuals — anyone they considered “different.” 

We must never forget what can happen when hate runs rampant. We must never forget what can happen when we turn away from wrongs being committed around the corner, around the globe. We must never forget what can happen when we stop treating each other the way we would like to be treated.

We must remember, always, the devastating toll the Holocaust took on humanity. We must remember so that we never allow it to repeat. Let’s hope those running the world remember it, too.