Of Hope And History

Today’s prompt asks if I could witness any event in history, what would it be and why.

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, a day to remember the liberation of Auschwitz, a day to remember and say “Never Again.” Except, of course, we haven’t actually managed to keep to the promise, have we? Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Nigeria (where entire villages get wiped out just because and nobody knows about it, and that was this month). And somewhere in the US tonight, a family grieves for a child shot dead by the police, knowing that the shooter will never really be called to account. Because policeman. Again.

And so I think about what event in history I would choose to witness. The Dude suggested battles (the thought had never occurred to me). I thought of the great speeches in history – “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King, Jnr. Almost anything by Winston Churchill. But not today, because those are events caught up in conflict. And I’ve had my fill of fighting for a while.

If I went to witness any event, it would be the arrival of the blinded Saul in Damascus after his shock conversion. I wouldn’t go for the actual conversion on the road – that for me is too intimate a moment. I would want to see the reaction of the people who had been expecting him in Damascus – the Jews, expecting him to come as a officially sanctioned solider to spark a holy war, and the Christians, cowering. Except now, not cowering, but still suspicious. Because Saul still had his piece of paper saying it was okay to kill all the Christians. In modern day parlance, it would be like the head of Islamic State converting to Christianity (or Judaism) and asking the people he’s been attacking to give him some lunch and explain how forgiveness works. I would have probably tied him up and put him under guard, just in case.

It’s a story of hope. Just like the stories that we need to remember from Auschwitz, and the Holocaust. Because yes, there will always be genocide, and hatred, and evil. But it doesn’t get to win. The horror of the Holocaust is that it happened, the miracle is that people survived. And theirs is the story that matters. The story of hope, and endurance, and belief. As long as we remember those people – the ones who survived, the ones who hoped, endured – the evil doesn’t get to win.

Hope. It’s my favourite part of history.

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