My son, who is a twenty-something EMT in Pennsylvania, posted the words below on his Facebook page on Tuesday before the synagogue attack on Saturday. I was so proud of him when I read this. And today I am even more so, hoping that his generation will be another “greatest generation,” and will stand up against the bigotry and hate-mongering that is creating fertile ground for anti-semitism and violence. #TreeOfLifeSynagogue #vote
“Today I had a moment that added pause to my day and week. I was transporting a demented elderly woman to the hospital for a check up after falling. As we were assessing her, I saw the tattoo on her forearm. A set of dull black-inked numbers that starkly contrasted her light skin. She was Jewish and born in Europe in the early 1920s. I can’t explain what I felt when I saw that tattoo, but it was an unexpected upswell of emotion. It lead me to reflect momentarily on what she must have seen and endured in her lifetime.
Sadness, respect, wonder....
Here was living proof that not all that long ago the world collapsed into a dark period of fear and hate that is incomprehensible. Sure you read about it, but this is someone who survived that horror, lying in front of me. Now we look back in history books and say the warnings were all there. Demagoguery, xenophobia, nativism, racism; many of these same illnesses we suffer from today as a country were ones dismissed as non-threats in Europe at one time.
It reminded me of the real threat of words, lies, fear-stoking, but especially the danger of viewing some lives as more important than others. The danger of grouping people based on their races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities.
Whereever I go people are people. Most people around the world want many of the same things. Food, shelter, security, a future for their children. No one is better than me, no one is worse. As Dr. Paul Farmer says, “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”
Seeing this patient reminded me that love and tolerance must prevail if we are to avoid a time like this again. It is essential for us to show compassion and love when we feel threatened or inclined to let fear cloud our judgement.
Easier said than done. But I can at least try. We all can. There’s so much at stake, and even more for us all to gain.
Never forget. Never again.”