Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s easy, on a day like this, to reflect at something of a distance. The photos are grainy now, dusty artifacts from another era. It was a different world then, we can tell ourselves—another place, another time.
Fully grappling with the reality of the Holocaust, though, isn’t so simple. Because before the camps and the brownshirts, before the consolidation of political power, before millions of lives were extinguished, there were simply people, not altogether different from any of us, who chose to see their neighbors as different, as other, as something less.
It’s a sadly familiar choice, one that we’ve seen generation after generation. And today, in our world of encroaching division and calcifying bubbles, we’ve seen once again the swiftness with which that choice—that failure to recognize ourselves in one another—can accelerate into violence.
So it’s up to us to make a different choice—to choose empathy over apathy; to sow seeds of hope rather than hate; to embrace our shared humanity, no matter how we worship, what we look like, who we love, or where our families came from.
That’s how we can not only pause to remember a tragedy once a year, but act on the lessons we’ve learned from it every day.