Are We Doomed to Reject Advancement?

Purely and wholly formed disgust is the singular emotion I find I am able to subscribe to without a note of hesitation, the events paving the way to it always objects of remembrance. Due to this, I’m able to specifically recount instances in which my stomach curled into a fist so tight I felt the rejection of futuristic meals, and could watch blackened edges of emotional trauma rest visibly in my horizon as I attempted to will away the details — in the fifth grade, I removed Anne Frank’s diary from the methodical library shelving and took it upon myself to indulge a young girl with something to say. In their purest form, my intentions were to validate the words of another, for I had always pined for a listening ear, and as I read, I was thrilled I had bothered. In retrospection, my intentions retreated by slight measures with each page I absorbed and turned, advancing upon a fate I hadn’t known I would stumble across, and one I would have preferred to have left unheard by my own self. At this apex in time, I hadn’t seen much in regards to raw darkness living in the minds of others, nor was I finely tuned to understand tragedies as they came, or victims as they were exposed. I hadn’t known much real tragedy, only the ones recited from past times that seemed so far from reach the details were always fuzzy, even when the story was in the midst of being told. History lessons were useful, and yet, provided no degree of realism as the events were considered; I took war imagery and graphics with the grain of salt I would allow to any program that depicted events I had no substantial way to back up. I listened to veterans expose their newly invited fates as they gestured to lost limbs with nothing but raw flesh left to remain, faces compromised with gashes and bruising that lined delicate bone structures, eyes that focused upon you but held so much else all at once. I knew to digest their words, but I did not know to understand them.

As I carefully read through the diary of Anne Frank, I learned to self-define what I now refer to as bigotry, religious intolerance, and racial bias — these three factors compromised the view I’d once had of the general public, and allowed a place for my mind to begin to wander, with no intentions of returning. I read of meals shared in a dimly lit space above civilization, and away from the eyes and ears of those that were terrified to know, and would ultimately choose not to — I read of secrets and the fear that inspired them. I listened to a girl, hardly older than I, speak of the plethora of reasons she was unwelcome, the people that chose it to be this way, and how these people treated those they deemed to fall into such harsh categorical standpoints. A singular thought would circulate as I indulged these horrors, this thought doomed to be perpetually unanswered; even as I sit considering old trains of thought, I realize there is still no correct response to this specific one that poses so many difficult questions. Why would people choose to be this way?

I ended the book with tears, and read it over again in the same fashion — I completed the elementary history class upon the conclusion of the diary, the class detailing the events that had been described, without offering much consolation. I suppose consolation wasn’t the intention of the course, it had just felt relatively expected; upon the cessation of the afore mentioned strenuous time in history, shouldn’t there have been a certain degree of reconciliation? My child self felt plagued with these bothersome suggestions, for if this bigotry had never been properly condemned, if these people had never been returned to the lives they’d been stripped from as the beginning of a lengthy and deserved apology, what became of them? What became of human nature from that point? What became of those that had ensured hatred reigned, and many were to suffer from the act? My main question remained, of course, claiming prominence over the multiple others; did we choose this? Why did we? Teachers were left without answers when we called upon them, their words bravely conveying that we were certainly never going to bear witness to such gruesome events in our lifetimes, promising to us that we’d learned our lessons of acceptance and love and could utilize them efficiently. These were accidental half truths.

They had not meant to lie, nor did they intend to mislead; for decades now, the presence of a white supremacist was condemned to the highest degree, the calculating salute of a Nazi clearly painted to be unwelcome, as well as a closed ended subject after condemnation; there was no need to justify our requirement to do away with this harmful superiority, as it had become nothing but a simple expectation. Hatred to that degree was something we’d seen the outcome of, something that took on a new existence as a form of education, rather than a full-blown event left unchecked. Intolerance of that variety was intolerable, and would be treated as such; and now?

Now, this matter is one of uncertainty; rallies run wild in the streets while those involved stand producing the familiar salutes, the words that follow derived of hate speech, intolerance, the fear of what equality could mean for them. To be equal with someone these neo-Nazis see as a minority is, in their minds, a fate worse than making an attempt to annihilate them — to be equal is worse than a new war, a new set of sides, and a new victim. Charlottesville, VA brought the beginning of visibility for the group, though it did not introduce the offsetting of modern ideals; those in charge of the areas have done such with little effort. Those that have made empty promises to lead and to inspire have done these things to only self-serving extents, and with intentions that were not promised. In elementary school, I asked how something as fiercely horrendous as the Holocaust could ever take place, especially to the dramatic extent that it did; now, it is not difficult to see why. No one is condemning it. No one in a position to condemn is utilizing a voice of reason; no one will admit what it truly is, and no one will abandon their flimsily crafted excuses. It’s about the lack of condemnation; it’s about the fear of losing the vote, rather than the fear of losing millions.

I suppose the newly crafted question I have is a simple one, as well as being much simpler to respond to; are we doomed to repeat history, reject advancement, and learn only when it is too late? Political responses will tell — withering strengths will tell, and so will historians, when they write us off as monstrous.