Walking with the Saints

Reflection on Genocide

The United Nations refers to Genocide as “the denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, aiming of complete extermination of such groups.”  Much to my horror I found out that this has been a favorite past-time of many nations.  Many nations now seem to have a day of remembrance, and some continue with this inhuman practice.

We can start with Rwanda where 800,000 people were murdered in a church building and continue with the extinction of the Romas.  Then in Bengali, Greece, the Armenian Holocaust, Russia’s pogroms of Jews, Pakistan, the massacre of Sikhs in New Delhi, and more.

The one’s we are probably most familiar with are the Armenian Holocaust and Germany’s Kristal night, which of course I remember quite vividly, since I was a little girl in Germany when that happened. For many years, the sound of broken glass would make me want to hide and often resulted in my wanting to take flight.  I remember when I was working as a therapist with a psychiatrist when a very disturbed patient broke a glass door. I began to shiver and cry.  Actually, this acted as a catalyst for me, recognizing that his act of destruction had nothing to do with what happened in Germany. 

I also remember when I was a graduate student in Berkeley; the night of a football rally, brought back memories of destruction.  A large bonfire and the frenzy of students chanting brought back the destruction of burning books, art objects and hauling people off to a concentration camp on.

As many people who have survived these kinds of atrocities, we feel guilty that they survived and later, hopefully will understand that thru the grace of God, they survived and are not to blame.  In terms of myself, I am not surprised that I feel so strong about justice issues.