The things most people think are important facets of their existance never cease to amaze me. The way humanity operates in its most base form both intriques and disgusts me.
Working in retail, especially in a high-end mall just outside of the city, I deal with a LOT of..THOSE people. You know, the ones who seem to believe that the world is their oyster and therefore they must take from it whatever they feel they are 'entitled' to.
Now, I guess this is the way most Americans are. We live in a heavily materialistic, capitalist society where material goods = power and pride. I've come to begrudgingly accept this, but at the same time I constantly make comparisons to life now and life say, 60 years ago in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Given my area of research and study, this should come as no surprise.
I've been reading Auschwitz: True Tales From a Grotesque Land, a memoir by Sara Nomberg-Prtzyk. It's intense, even as far as Auschwitz memoirs go.
She speaks very animately about the values of certain parts of life. Material. Family. Love. Death.
To her, in this camp full of death, despair, and lost ideals, the sanctity of human life remained a constant. Perhaps that's why she managed to survive the hell of Auschwitz.
People in that camp went three ways, as is the case for any and all concertration and/or death camps. 1)Mussulmann . This was the word given to those men and women who let the camp destroy them. They became emotionally and physically weak, vacant, and hopeless. Mussulmann, without question, were sent to the gas chambers and then up the chimneys in a puff of black smoke. 2) Monsters. These men and women, though a small percentage of the camp victims, were many enough to evoke fear and rage from other victims. They would adopt the Nazi's cruelty in order to put themselves in a better, more 'priviledged' position . They often beat other prisoners to death in order to display their emotional and physical strength and secure their position outside of the gas chambers. 3)Humanists. These, also few in number, were the people who grabbed onto the idea of helping other people subsist and exist in a community bent on their literal annihilation. They were the ones who "organized" goods to bribe the SS , often obtaining things essential to everyday life for other prisoners. They were looked up to, admired, espoused by nearly every prisoner minus those who embraced cruelty as a means of existance.
There, amidst the horror of millions of people going to their slaughter like herded beasts, were people who emanated good. There in the camps, where thousands of helpless men and women met their untimely fate at the hands of a ravenous dicator, there were angels mixed in with the devils who oversaw camp operations. People who understood that human dignity, existance, and hope lay in the heart and very soul of a person, and could be guided through the toughest of times by faith in man, god, or an unnameable force that may be there to help them through the ordeal of Auschwitz.
There were mothers who went to the gas willingly in order to be there with their children as they choked, coughed, and died.
There were husbands and wives who, in a last attempt to show their love for each other, made unabashed, passionate love to each other as they waited in the chamber for their impending death to arrive.
And here, today, in this world unlike any other we call "The United States" , there are fistfights over baseball games. There are murders over lovers and trivial amounts of betrayal. There are people stealing from the poor and helping the unfortunate become even less fortunate. There are millionaires who behave as animals, because they have the money and the power to do so without regret.
Sometimes, I can't help but be ashamed of the human race as it exists today. But sometimes, I see something that makes me stop and think...maybe, just maybe, there are people out there who'll make it right again, someday. I truly hope so, even if I am not alive to see it happen.