Wednesday, July 1, 2015

So Much Goodness...and So Much Harm

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

I read two stories from the New York Times today. They both focused on men who played a role in the time of Nazi Germany's domination of Europe. As I completed the articles I found myself appreciating how much good or harm one person can do.

One story profiled the court proceedings focused on the life of former SS soldier Oskar Groening. Groening is now a frail ninety-four year old man. The court charged Groening as an accessory to 300,000 counts of murder. Perhaps at least as galling is the sentence he may receive if convicted. He may be sentenced to three to fifteen years in prison. Fifteen years consists of approximately 5500 days. Were he to receive the maximum sentence possible each of the 300,000 counts would have a 'time value' of slightly less than 2% of a single day of time. Can you imagine a single human life being equated to the value contained in a period of time that is approximately twenty-six minutes long? Is any human life only worth the punishment of being imprisoned for a mere twenty-six minutes? It's quite appalling really.

The other story was uplifting. The story was an inspiring testimonial and obituary to the generosity of a Briton named Nicholas Winton. Winton played a significant role in the escape of 669 children from Czechoslovakia in the days immediately before World War II would consume Europe. Described in the article as a 'reluctant hero', Winton recently died at the age of 106. Worldwide publicity of the kindness that saved hundreds of children's lives came about only after Winton's wife Grete discovered a scrapbook filled with materials related to her husband's rescue activities decades after their occurrence.
I was most moved by the final paragraph of the story:

"On September 1, 2009, 70 years after the onset of the war halted the rescue operations, a special train with a locomotive and carriages from the 1930s left Prague to re-create the perilous 1939 journeys. On board were some of the original Winton's Children any many of their descendants, whose numbers now exceed 6,000."

One man was an accessory to 300,000 murders. Another man's life is the reason more than 6,000 people are alive today. And as noted in the second article I referenced those descendants include some individuals who have made very substantial contributions to the world. It's amazing how one life can touch the lives of so many.

It seems fitting I should read these stories on the day before the anniversary of my blog's beginning. I began writing my blog on July 2, 2013. It's been an amazing and transformative two year period in my life. One reason I chose to share my writings in a publicly accessible forum was my hope that it would inspire others who have experienced (or are now experiencing) significant hardship or pain in their own lives. One life can touch so many lives. I hope my writing these last two years has inspired people to reach for the stars above them!

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!