I started elementary school in Frankfurt, Germany. It seems like a lifetime ago, yet of late, reflections on that time and place have been frequent visitors to my memory.
I was raised by an avid reader, who was raised by her grandmother, also an avid reader.
My mother gave me the gift of literacy early in life. An all access pass that placed limitless learning opportunities at my fingertips. Pick up a book and I could travel anywhere in my imagination without ever moving my feet.
Before I ever set foot in a school, I sat on my mother’s lap and was taught to read—and read well. And so commenced a lifelong love affair with the written word.
One of the first books my Mom ever read to me in Germany was "The Diary of Anne Frank". She wanted me to understand the gravity of the human tragedy that originated in the country in which we resided. She used the autobiography of a young Jewish girl as an introduction.
Because of my mother’s passion for education, and her belief that learning is enhanced by seeing, I have been to concentration camps. I have stood in the gas chambers. I’ve seen the ovens.
She exposed me to history through books. And then shuttled me around Western Europe to physically explore historical relics.
Decades later, I can still summon the memories, images, and innocent curiosity of youth that filled my mind as a young American living abroad.
I wondered aloud and questioned often: ~How did this happen? ~How did a nation of intelligent people believe this nonsense? ~How did ONE leader convince half a continent that people who were once friends, neighbors and colleagues were subhuman, thus worthy of harsh discrimination initially—-and deserving of death ultimately?
The adult me spent decades learning the historic answers to those questions. Yet the girl of me still wondered about the psyche of those who participated in this horror, whether through overt persecution, or silent indifference.
How does one devalue the humanity of their fellow man to such a dark and insidious degree?
In 2021, I no longer wonder. I no longer question. I no longer hold any confusion about the Why of it, the How of it, the Horror of it.
In 2021, I have born witness. I have seen this dynamic at work in my own country. I have seen first hand the power of an OUTRAGEOUS lie, OFT repeated.
“If you tell a BIG lie enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. If you tell a lie LONG enough, it becomes the truth.” (Joseph Goebbels-German Minister of Propaganda)
Lies LONG told, and now ACCEPTED as truth, is precisely what I've watched unfold in America. It's why a huge swath of the populous bought into the BIG lie of a stolen election.
Despite no basis in reality, Despite no grounding in facts, Despite no corroborating data. Despite being dismissed in court challenges.
Despite all---denial persists and descent into an alternate reality grows more entrenched.
Goebbels believed: “Propaganda must always be essentially simple and repetitious."
•It’s impossible to lose legitimately •Mail in ballots can’t be trusted •A loss is automatic proof of a rigged election.
Simple and repetitious indeed!
Disinformation was endlessly echoed before a vote was ever cast. Unleashing a verbal toxin that seeped into the psyche of devoted followers of the president like an environmental poison permeating groundwater.
“Those who can make you BELIEVE absurdities can make you COMMIT atrocities.” (Voltaire)
Last week, the full import of this quote was on flagrant display for all the world to see. For the first time in our nation’s history, a sitting President incited insurrection against the US government.
In the aftermath, our nation’s Capitol is under lockdown, and our state Capitol’s nationwide are on high alert. I’m no longer asking WHY or HOW. I’ve pivoted to asking WHAT?
What am I to do in this polarized environment in which many believe my skin makes me their enemy, and my dissent with their views makes me a traitor?
I spent a lot of time this past week pondering what I am against.
I needed time to process the DEEP indignation I’ve felt as a BLACK American who follows the teachings of a JEWISH messiah. I needed to work through the offense I felt watching both of these racial identities demeaned, and the Holocaust mocked, using “Christian” religion as a cover.
I remain AGHAST and AGAINST everything those domestic terrorists did and stand for.
But Today I pivot to a focus on what I am FOR.
Instead of asking: Why is this happening now? I’m asking: What is this teaching me now?
And as I sit in stillness to receive those answers, I’m also asking what role is MINE to play at THIS time in history, in MY sphere of influence?
Dr. Bernice King eloquently put it this way: