A group of us made an excursion to the Holocaust Museum today. After taking a class in which I studied Holocaust and other witness poetry, and after hearing a multitude of things about the Holocaust Museum, I knew I was going to cry. I knew this visit was going to be hard.
That said, I never knew how hard this visit was going to be.
I felt emotional almost the entire time as I walked through the four floors of the (very well-designed) museum, but I held in the tears for most of it.
One exhibit in the museum involved a pile of shoes taken from Holocaust victims. Seeing those shoes, I couldn’t help myself but break down.
At the same time, I wondered to myself whether my visit was really doing anything. Banners at the museum reminded us that, “Never again begins with you.” Are we really fooling ourselves into believing the concept of “never again,” even with an entire room dedicated to modern-day genocide?
I have to wonder, does spending time remembering and analyzing our atrocities of past detract from our need to realize our atrocities of the present?
I struggled with this the entire time I walked through the museum. The words of my high school history teacher, “We remember history to prevent from repeating it,” rang through my mind.
But if the masses were at the museum so that they could do their parts in “never again,” if they were there to do their parts in preventing the repetition of history, then why is genocide still happening?
Maybe my approach to the world’s problems is too simple. In fact, I will admit that this analysis has been over-simplified. At the same time, what would happen if we spent the same amount of time examining our present world as we do examining history, would we not be a far more aware populous? Would we not be more equipped to deal with our current problems?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for the eradication of historical education. I’m simply advocating for a heightened awareness of our world, as it exists now.