Words are cheap.
We spit around the words “never again” after great tragedy and forget about it until the next great tragedy. We paste these words it on our social media feeds, with hastags and filters, as a public effort to salve our souls and market our goodness. We said these words after Auschwitz, we said these words after Rwanda, we said these words after apartheid, we said these words after the Khmer Rouge, we said these words after the great wars…
And today we ignore the crises around the world from Myanmar to Syria, from Congo to Sudan.
And very often this because we don’t recognise that other humans have equal dignity as us.
The above was a cut from Hotel Rwanda (2004), at the opening of the film, where the local radio DJ was critisised the minority-but-ruling Tutsi’s as coackroaches. The language was divisive, it was about us versus them, Hutu versus Tutsi.
The same language is used today in other parts of the world by those couching behind the mask of religious power to dehumanise others.
This is no different from the modus operandi used in the story Animal Farm, the same method of hatred used regardless of the name it is labelled with.
The end goal is the same, to reduce the other to less than human dignity. So that political or violent action can be taken against them. Equal human dignity is something that the Living History Forum in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan is trying to address.
Using the life of Anne Frank during the Holocaust as a launching pad the museum aims to “promote tolerance, democracy and human rights.”
Anne Frank was a young German girl whose family fled to Amsterdam as Germany came under Nazi rule. They hide from the occupying Nazi’s by attempting to hide in an office for three years. Until she was caught and the family was sent to a concentration camp.
Her life came to light after her diary was discovered and reproduced for the rest of the world. Her story became the human face of survival under repression. Together with Auschwitz, she is the symbol of “never again”.
In this polarised age human rights, democracy and tolerance sometimes seem like highfalutin statements uttered by a liberal part of the world. In an age where political correctness is scorned for being foolish and unreal, we should be careful against throwing out the baby of human dignity and quality with the bathwater (political correctness).
The forum holds regular talks with curators and the public to share, educate and discuss these issues, it also has a library with books on global human rights issues.
One book that caught my attention was an autobiography by Park Yeon Mi, who managed to flee North Korea. The story of North Korean dissidents and people fleeing from the regime reads like people who self-medicated and gained courage to flee from a terror/brainwashing infection of “Stockholm Syndrome”.
Anne Frank may have passed away, but there are still many Anne Franks who need our help. We may not be Paul Rusesabagina, Raoul Wallenberg or Mamoru Shinozaki. But we can do a part, even a small part. Will we continue to allow “never again” to be just a phrase?
Here are some places and charities that are trying their darnest to save human lives and give them the dignity they deserve.
ON THE MAP