Bearing witness to the Shoah: my experience visiting Auschwitz

Preface: This is not a post about movies, music, or anything of that matter. This past Saturday I walked through the infamous Auschwitz, a place I had heard so much about through literature and schooling. I felt it pertinent to reiterate this on my own blog (I also posted this on my study-abroad group’s blog website).

View of the tracks leading toward the remainder of the gas chambers in Birkenau

The morning of October 7th was a picture-perfect setting for the time and space it occupied. The clouds of grey beamed with lights of darkness, and the cool chills of the brisk, moist Polish air paved way for an eeriness that transcended its location’s horrors.

On this morning, my study-abroad comrades and I ventured an hour away; from Krakow to Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz 2: Birkenau. Yes, after years and years of hearing and learning about the Shoah through textbook and literature, I stood where unimaginable atrocities ensued.

What am I to say to that? What am I to say to that, as I comfortably sit writing, recognizing I was able to enter and leave (what about “recognizing I was able to enter and leave”?) Auschwitz? This question definitely packs an ironic punch to one’s heart. It helps formulate another question:

“Why did the Shoah happen?” or “How could God let such a tragedy occur?”

After a week of preparation and then actually walking through Auschwitz, there is only one answer that reigns true: we as the human race simply do not know. Last week, OC professor Dr. Charles Rix put it best: “There is no why.”

The “why” of this question turns more so into a “what” type of interrogative:

“Now that the Shoah is 72 years past us, what do we do about it?”

This “what” has an answer: we must bear witness. The human race, especially Christians, must never let the Shoah escape its cognitive grasp. We are a flawed people, and undoubted moments of ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ make puppetry of humanity’s imperfection. These times seem to open the door for sadists and overall inhumane humankind.

Thus, let us lock that door forever by bearing witness to the tragedies that have come from that entrance. In World War II, the “Neu Ramp” (the name for the landing platform at Birkenau,  which signified an ending of life; with its tracks leading to the front door of its infamous gas chambers.

In a post-Shoah life, we can enter the boundaries of Birkenau and see the ruins of an inhumane attempt of extermination. By bearing witness to these atrocities, we can lay down tracks that lead to a brighter and more inclusive way of life.

View from the “Neu Ramp”


Blessings,

Mason

Advertisements

Life and a multitude of interests

Dreams. As humans, we naturally have them. We want to be the next big artist, movie star, athlete, etc.

Many solidify themselves to one big dream, one goal, one big interest. I myself, throughout my whole life, have bounced between interests, dreams and goals. There are so many different things that I love (hence the very scatterbrained blog).

It normally seems when high school comes around that people will begin making cuts on things to pave way for their main goal or aspiration. For example, I saw plenty of my friends move from playing three sports their whole life to focusing on just one. I was a football-only guy, so this was not the case for me!

I am very thankful for the high school I attended. It highly encouraged cross-platform involvement. Thus, I found myself acting as a singing and dancing, saxophone-playing offensive linemen.

Where am I going with all of this talk about high school? No, I am not making an ad saying that I peaked in high school. The point I am making is that having multiple hobbies, interests, goals, whatever one may want to call them, is healthy, natural and great.

Having lots of pastimes proves to be a great time. It provides a balance in life that brings peace and joy. Multiple investments in life prove a path to open-mindedness.

Having multiple interests and aspirations is great, but as with anything else, there are bound to be negative sides to it.

Being involved with different organizations, groups, etc. leads to overlap. Overlap leads to picking and choosing what rehearsals/meetings/practices to miss and thus, stress ensues!

Not only this, but you could find yourself being a little bit above average at everything you invested in. There lies the advantage with honing in on one main aspiration/goal.

Overall, I have enjoyed this somewhat scatterbrained life. It creates excitement, and I wanted to give encouragement to those who may feel hesitant to invest in more than one hobby. The human brain is a powerful machine and holds lots of space for many skills and many talents!

What is your greatest talent/skill? Let me know by leaving a comment or shooting me an email at mfthomas@mail.lipscomb.edu!

In Him,

Mason