The Holocaust of “Other”
“Whenever he looked in a mirror, he would see his mother’s eyes: china blue and frightened. Frightened of dirt, of her husband, of illness, and of God. Her son, too, was frightened. Frightened of priests and hunters, of cigarette smokers and skiers, of liberals, journalists, germs and dirt, of gypsies, judges, and Americans. He was frightened of being wrong, of being weak, of being effeminate. Frightened of poets and of Poles, of academics and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Frightened of moonlight and horses, of snow and water and the dark. Frightened of microbes and spirochetes, of feces, and of old men, and of the French.
The very blood in his veins was a danger to him. There were birth defects and feeblemindedness in his incestuous family. His uncle-father was a bastard, and Klara’s son worried all his life that unsavory gossip about his ancestry would become public. He was frightened of sexual intercourse and never had children, afraid his tainted blood would be revealed in them. He was terrified of cancer, which took his mother’s life, and horrified that he had suckled at diseased breasts.
How could anyone live with so much fear?
His solution was to simplify. He sought and seized one all-encompassing explanation for the existence of sin and disease, for all his failures and disappointments. There was no weakness in his parents, his blood, his mind. He was faultless; others were filth. He could not change his china blue eyes, but he could change the world they saw. He would identify the secret source of every evil, and root it out, annihilating at a stroke all that threatened him.
He would free Europe of pollution and defilement–only health and confidence and purity and order would remain!
Are such grim and comic facts significant, or merely interesting? Here’s another: the doctor who could not cure Klara Hitler’s cancer was Jewish.”
(Quote from Maria Doria Russell, A Thread of Grace)
Perhaps Franklin Roosevelt declared “the only thing to fear is fear itself”, because fear, when unacknowledged, disowned, and uncontrolled, has the capacity to wreak havoc of such immensity…
And inspire violence of such unfathomable proportions…
All committed in its name.
A deep dark fear nursed by ONE individual, a fear rooted in self-disgust, disappointment, shame and ignorance… led to the extermination of 6 million Jews.
This one small person was so full of fear and driven by a projection so enormous, that he sought to erase an entire nationality of people. He was also able to inspire with his own fervent vitriol millions of others, to stand behind him.
We all have a shadow.
We are afraid of ourselves and what lives in the dark corners of our own hearts…
We are afraid because we believe we are flawed, broken, fraudulent in one way or another.
We want our darkness to go away. But it won’t. It haunts us. It haunts us until we take some sort of action.
And this is where we make a choice.
Sitting with our own demons, looking them in the face and uncovering what lies within them requires tremendous courage. It is a task not for the faint of heart.
There are few who are willing to face their own shadow. But fear is tenacious and will ALWAYS find a way to be heard.
So our fear and anxiety gets thrown onto others, like a hot potato being passed in a circle. No one wants to sit with it.
For, if “YOU ARE THE ROOT OF THIS WRONGNESS,” there is no need for me to look at myself in any honest way.
We don’t want to feel the exquisite pain of our own internal demons, so we take it out on others, we seek to root out the evil in others.
A much simpler task indeed.
And so…we find ourselves in a world marred by domestic abuse, child abuse, bullying, hate crimes, gun violence (domestic terrorism)…
And now we find ourselves in a world where our new “leader” proposes:
Building walls on borders to keep the “other” out…threatening women’s reproductive rights, sending immigrants “back to where they came from”…refusing a home to war-torn refugees…banning muslims from entering our country…revoking rights from those that are deemed “other”…and on and on.
We live in precarious times. We are on the edge. It is a thin and sharp blade.
Tell me, what is the difference between believing you are “racially” superior v.s. your country is superior?
What is an “American” anyways? Aren’t we all immigrants? Minus the Native Americans who preceded us?
Have you ever noticed that there are certain things that happen over and over in your life, until you finally “get it”? Well, history is like that too. It repeats itself, until we say “No. We will NOT do this again.”
I’m saying NO. I will not sit quietly while the dream of America as a melting pot, as a home for people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, sexual preferences, religions and nationalities is swiftly burned to the ground…as if it never existed in the first place.
That’s what made us special. It was the best thing about America. That all kinds of people were welcome here. They ARE welcome here.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid. What’s happening IS terrifying.
But I KNOW, in my heart, that the only way to transform fear is to seek a path of truth, of understanding and action based in compassion and insight.
I do not claim to be without fault or prejudice, because that would be a lie. I have more character faults of my own than I care to list here.
But if there is one thing I know, it is this. Violence will not solve violence and fear of “other” will not make our world a safer place.
May our Love be bigger than his Fear.
May our Memory be stronger than his Ignorance.
May our Unity be bigger than his Divisiveness.
And may we all rise up like the great, all embracing nation that we are, and ROAR until our voices are hoarse, that we will NOT stand for intolerance.
We will not sit by and let history repeat itself once more.
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About the author:
Olivia Katz is a Los Angeles based photographer, writer, and yogi. Her passion for photography and writing grew out of a love for observing and understanding the world around her. She hunts for beauty and light, sometimes in unpredictable places.
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
www.OliviaKatz.com | insta @OliviaKatz | email: Olivia@OliviaKatz.com