Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Learning to Be Thankful...


I'm not a hardcore blogger like say my sis w/her Kitten Lounge blog (an awesome blog by the way) but when I do write, it's because I feel very inspired to do so. It's been roughly a month since my last blog post and I definitely have good reason to write today. Every once in a while, you come across something that really does inspire you or at least give you a reason to sit back and reflect on how much you have. And it reminds you to be thankful of everything that you've been given.

Now, I'm by no means an ungrateful person! People who know my life story know that I've been through enough to definitely count my blessings and thank God for taking me as far as He has. But, today I was sitting on the 5 train, minding my own business when I noticed a little old Jewish man sitting across from me. There was nothing extraordinary about him - he was slightly stoop shouldered, with a basic short sleeved button down and pants pulled up to his arm pits. In his own way, he was slightly adorable. 

Now, by now, you're probably wondering why I emphasized the fact that he was Jewish - why couldn't he be just a "little old man"? Well, that's because on his left forearm, there was a tattoo there. And most people know I like tattoos, especially when they have a real significance. But, if you saw this man, you would agree with me when I say, there's no way this old man would voluntarily get a tattoo, especially on his forearm, and especially since it was just a series of numbers and letters, much like a product code. 

So, through all my history classes, I had always learned about how in the Holocaust, people were tattooed with a number, much like product on a shelf, or cattle at a ranch. And considering that it's now 2009, more than sixty years after the end of WWII and the liberation of Jewish people forced into concentration camps across Germany and other parts of Europe, it was a real eye opener to see this man snoozing quietly across the train car from me, with a tattoo that represented a serious and embarrassingly shameful chapter in world history. 

It's one thing to read about something in a book, or see it on TV, because in some ways, you're still distanced from it. Those atrocities you see happening to someone else - somewhere else; are just that - someone else's drama. But when you see a piece of history sitting in front of you, it really does blow your mind. It's a very sobering experience. As I sat there (since I was underground and could no longer get reception on my iPhone), I kept thinking - imagining what that man must have endured. To think - he must have been anywhere from a child to a late teen when everything happened. I can only imagine the stories he would tell - if he's even willing to tell them. 

And I continued to think, about how easy it is to get so caught up in your own day to day drama and how doing so can totally warp your perspective. Seeing that little old man with his concentration camp tattoo, or meeting someone who's been through the genocidal situations in Africa, Bosnia/Croatia, etc - it really helps you to realize that no matter how bad things are here in the States, we still have the ability to take for granted that our rights will be heard. Even more, we can sleep soundly with the assurance that our rights even matter; that some arbitrary uprising won't happen. My biggest issue of the moment is finding a booking agent for Japan...there are people across the world who's biggest issue is simply surviving the night to see another sunrise. 

Seeing this little old man on the 5 train today was just a reminder to me (although I already knew this) that life in all it's forms is severely precious. And, that we should never forget - whether it's the Holocaust, African subjugation in the Americas, tribal genocide in Africa, or ethnic cleansing from various centuries (including present day) in various locales. Life is precious, and it's something that should be respected and revered, regardless of the race/gender/age that it takes.

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