June 14, 1941 was the day when thousands of Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians were deported to Siberia by the occupying Soviet forces. You can see posts I’ve made in other years here, here and here.
I’ll be honest. I struggle with what to say on days like this. Part of me asks “How can something like this happen?” but atrocities like it continue to happen around the world on a daily basis, so it shouldn’t shock me the way it does. Human beings have a frightening capacity and drive for destroying other human beings. Thousands of years of human development, be it in science or ethics or technology, all seem to lead only to finding better ways to destroy one another. I’ve never understood it.
Then I ask a different question – “Why do things like this continue to happen?” I don’t think it is ignorance. We’re bombarded with images of atrocities on a daily basis, be they events that are currently taking place or be they historical events. You’d have to go out of your way to not know what pain and suffering there is in the world.
Perhaps that’s the problem. We see so much of it that we become desensitized to it. Removed from it. We feel helpless, and believe we can’t make a difference because the scale of suffering is so huge.
But you can make a difference. Maybe not to everyone who is suffering. But you can make a difference to one person, or one family. During the Second World War, thousands of people gave shelter to those who were being hunted by one army or another. Protected them from arrest, deportation, or worse. Risked their own lives to save others. Would the people they saved say that their protectors were unable to stop the suffering, because they only helped one person? No. They would say that that person made all the difference in the world.
I believe the same can be done today. Everyone can help one person who is suffering. Everyone can remember one person who suffered under tyranny, but who did not survive. And bit by bit, the world will become a better place.
Who are you going to remember today? And who are you going to help?