Remembering the Holocaust is not for the dead. It’s for the living.
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day—one of the few remaining days where we as Americans are unified. For this single day, we lay aside the moral relativism sweeping our culture and agree again that there is a right and wrong and that the Holocaust was firmly the latter.
But after the public statements are posted and political proclamations are made, will we still agree that there is a clear and definite right and wrong—that we really should never again allow an atrocity like the Holocaust to take place?
Will we still agree that there is a clear and definite right and wrong?
If “never again,” is more than just a slogan, what does that mean for us today?
Anthony Blinken said in his public statement:
Among the most powerful lessons we can learn from the Holocaust is that the mass murder of six million Jews was not a sudden or singular act, but rather the culmination of countless incremental steps designed to vilify and dehumanize people. That’s why we must remember now, and always.
But on most days, any discussion of these “countless incremental steps” withers away to nothingness. It becomes blind and dull finger-pointing. It becomes, “That’s nothing like the Holocaust! How could you even make that comparison?” It becomes undiscussable.
Yes, on these incremental steps, the conviction and passion of many grow cold. It is an unexplainable phenomenon that paints those who seek to earnestly apply the lessons of the Holocaust to modern times as antisemites.
We don’t remember only to honor the dead. We remember to guide the living. If we don’t believe that the story of the Holocaust has any application to the present and the future, then why not forget?
We don’t remember only to honor the dead. We remember to guide the living.
The slippery slope that led to the Holocaust was paved with many evils, but one was the people being too squeamish—too preoccupied to identify the “incremental steps” on the path to destruction.
The people who fell victim to Nazi ideology, both the oppressed and oppressor, were no different from us. There was nothing uniquely evil that lived inside those who became Nazis. It is the same evil that lives inside each of us.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said:
The line between good and evil runs not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart.
If that’s so, then it’s the work of every generation to recommit to the battle of good versus evil—within our nation, within our family—within our own hearts. For, as God said to Cain, sin is always lurking at our door.
It’s the work of every generation to recommit to the battle of good versus evil.
When evil slithers upon us, it may appear different on the outside, but, at its core, it will always be exactly the same. That is why we must study, debate, dissect, compare, and contrast the Holocaust—that is why we must hold it up against current times.
To think of the Holocaust as a hideous, yet unrepeatable past event is not enough. The evil within human hearts has not been abolished. To truly mean the words “Never Again,” we must first accept that, without our vigilance, it could happen again.