Are you troubled by the increase of terror at home and around the world?
Travel appears riskier than ever and yet our hometowns seem equally vulnerable to unrest. How and where is it safe to voice our opinions and stand up for what we believe?
The news is full of stories that make us anxious, fearful, determined, and more – as hate, violence, and horror are on the rise in ways many never thought possible. As a member of the post-World War II Baby Boom Generation, I used to think civilization had made so much progress that it could never slip back and forget the lessons I assumed history had taught so well.
And yet, here we are: If you see something; say something. High alert. Be aware of your surroundings. Know where the nearest exit is. Neo-nazis and white supremacists are flaunting their presence and intensifying their hate-filled slogans.
We are, once again, in an “us vs. them” society. The Age of Aquarius, with its yearning for peace and love, is apparently long gone, and we find ourselves trying to cope with the resulting fear and tension.
I remember being in Junior High and reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. You may know this is the journal of a 13 year old Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family for two years in Nazi-occupied 1942 Amsterdam. They were eventually betrayed and sent to concentration camps; only her father (barely) survived.
She wrote, “It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hope rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality.” *
Her words resonate now in surprising ways.
“It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” *
I imagine by the time she wrote this, Anne had already seen all-too-many examples of hard-heartedness and humanity at its worst. It has always amazed me that she could still cling to her belief in everyone’s basic goodness. Was she foolish? Was she just very young?
Anne continued: “I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too…” *
Here we have a glimpse of a more fearful and despairing Anne. I feel her being pulled down into hopelessness by the unremitting misery of her circumstances and news from the outside world. Who would blame her?
And then she concluded: “I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if i look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the day will come when I shall be able to realize them." *
Anne Frank’s writings strike me initially as evidence of our human nature to hold two (or more) seemingly opposing views at the same time. I think she’s describing one part of her that truly does believe people are really good at heart, and another part of her that’s hopelessly crushed by man’s inhumanity to man. She was able to bring these two parts together by concluding that even though her current reality was dismal, she would need her values to be intact someday in the future.
This message moved me and illuminated another possible take on our own times. I, too, believe that people are born really good at heart. I mean this in the general sense of all human beings, leaving room to acknowledge that individuals are affected by their own lives and vary widely. Of course I know that among those born good-at-heart, there is some evil, some confusion, and some struggle.
When evil, confusion, and struggle converge at times to threaten our peace and tranquility, it is incumbent upon other good-at-heart people to emphasize and communicate our principles. We will not tolerate hate or cruelty of any kind. We will not submit to terror at home or abroad. We will live our ideals of loving-kindness, which raises the earth’s energetic vibration.
There are many ways of communicating and living these ideals. I’m fond of saying there is always more than one right way to do something, so choose what fits for you. Write, speak, sing, dance, create, and live according to your highest heart-based values – it matters now, more than ever.
When we join together for love and against terror in all forms, I believe we honor Anne’s legacy and embody the words “Never Again.”
*All quotes from: Frank, A. (1967). Anne Frank: The diary of a young girl. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday.
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