I think I’m a pretty strong individual. Mentally, I mean.
I can face hardship, face problems, face obstacles, and either surmount them, go around them, or accept them.
It’s different when it comes to some things.
Like most people, I live surrounded by various shades of humanity, and I don’t mean shades of skin color.
I mean that some are smart, some are kind, some are honest, some are generous, and so on . . . you get the picture. All of those are “good” traits by almost any subjective measure I care to employ. I rarely encounter anyone ticking off all them boxes, and even when I do, I know it’s likely a temporary state of affairs because we’re all human.
Meaning, I know that as much as I try to check off all them boxes, I often come up short in one or more. I take comfort in knowing that I try and try hard, and don’t beat up myself too much when I fall short because I know I’ll keep trying to improve; to fall less short less often.
The thing is — and here’s where I’m a hard-nosed judgmental bastard — the vast majority of people I meet, hear about, or read about, don’t even try. The opposite, even. It’s why I have such low regard for most of humanity (and don’t have many friends) . . . it’s because that vast majority go out of their way to both be miserable, and make other people’s lives miserable.
It can be little things or it can be big things, but the commonality is a disregard for other people; the selfishness of not considering that other people deserve as much respect and dignity as we claim for ourselves.
I know, I know, humanity has always fallen way short of any ideal . . . it’s why they invented religion. They think it absolves them.
Some might be wondering what brought this on. Is it the repeated stories of mass graves found in Canada? It’s not the first time nor the first place that such reports surface, and yes, they hit on the psyche something fierce.
Just like the stories of church-sponsored abuse of children, child trafficking, and all the news reporting the misery of the human condition in places that sometimes are not far from where we live also deal blows to the psyche.
But this puts a face and name to what was happening 78 years ago . . .
That’s not the version of the photo that gut-punched me . . . because this is the version that I first saw . . .
I innocently opened up an article (LINK) about colorizing historical photos because it’s something I’ve done a few times with a couple of old family photos.
There are many who don’t click on links, so here’s the text from the Twitter Stream:
2 March 1943 | 14-year old Polish girl Czesława Kwoka (camp no. 26947) was murdered in #Auschwitz with a phenol injection into the heart. She was deported by Germans from Zamość region as part of their plan of creating „living space” in the east. According to the testimony of a survivor Wilhelm Brasse, who took the registration picture of Czesława Kwoka, just before it was taken, the girl was beaten by one of the guards. In the picture, you can see the cut in her lip. Czesława Kwoka was born on 15 August 1928 in Wólka Złojecka, a village in Zamość region. She arrived at #Auschwitz on 13 December 1942 in a transport of 318 women. Her mother Katarzyna was also deported. She received number 26949 & perished in the camp on 18 February 1943.
Aside from the sadness and empathy I feel, there’s something else. It can’t even be rightly described as anger because the word is not encompassing enough but it’s a good start.
There’s also frustration because that happened 78 years ago, and the people responsible are likely no more . . . but even more frustrating, there are people who today march under the same flag as Czesława Kwoka’s killers. Not elsewhere, but here, in the United States of America.
I understand; American men and women gave their lives to guarantee their right to march under that — and/or the equally dishonorable Confederate — flag, and I’m not proposing that right be abrogated.
But I wonder if those fierce champions of white supremacy can look at that photo, look into the girl’s eyes (14 years old) and still feel pride marching under that flag and displaying tattoos of swastikas on their skin.
You know what? I bet they do.
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