Last weekend was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp in a number of events over last weekend. Henry Ergas writing in the Australian observed that 75 years ago in 1945 on Australia Day the daily papers began to report on the liberation of the terrible Nazi Death Camps and Auschwitz in particular, where 1.1 million people were brutally exterminated, 960,000 of them were Jews.
Ergas quoted political philosopher Hannah Arendt, a Jew who escaped from German occupied Europe in 1941. She reflected on the nature of the evil that was Nazi Antisemitism. Her attention was upon the industrial scale of the torture and murder, something that could not be explained by the usual evil motives of self-interest, greed, covetousness, resentment, lust of power and cowardice.
This is what follows when an ethnic group like the Jews has been stripped of its status as fully human. When a society starts down the path of thinking of and acting toward a group as less than fully human, something shifts in the culture as a whole. When the loud voices say that a group should be denied association, right to practice their faith, disqualified from employment, when their voice is being silenced, when they are no longer equal before the law, when they are being blamed, they are being dehumanised.
Before long most people will stop thinking of them as true humans and when that happens, they are just a problem needing a final solution, a pest to be exterminated.
The pernicious thoroughness of evil seeks to snuff out every witness to truth and replace it with a persuasive falsehood and in this case it is about what it means to be fully human – what honours, what rights, what expectations are attached to this state of being. Today this includes rights to choose whatever you feel defines you – whether sexuality, gender, relationship status, body alterations, whatever makes you happy. But this happiness is hollow.
In the biblical understanding, people are made in the likeness of God himself – not his physical form but his intrinsic nature. God’s purpose in creating humankind was that they might enter fully into his joy. In a word, God created us for joy – the sublime celebration of all He is and has made in its perfection and wonder. And it is this creative purpose that defines us. We may be alienated from God but the longing for ecstasy remains as the fingerprint of the Almighty on our inner being. This is fundamental to full humanity as distinct from ‘empty’ humanity - a life that lacks this joy and is offered temporal amusement instead. And how much effort goes into keeping people amused instead,
perpetuating the myth that that’s as good as it gets.
Losing sight of this elevating purpose, and stripping others of their right to this full humanity is the beginning of the industry of death in someone’s imagination. The offer of happiness may be enough to silence us, to make us pretend we never saw the dangers.
From Auschwitz the surviving voices speak: “Don’t forget Auschwitz. Don’t allow yourself to be silenced when you see any group of humans being dehumanised.” Protect the rights of free speech and the practice of faith and do not allow the elites of our time to intimidate people into silence or compliance by shunning and shaming those who do not conform to their opinions.
Stand with FamilyVoice as a Christian voice for family, faith and freedom because these elements are fundamental to being fully human.