One Word at a Time
I was in third grade when I discovered the Holocaust. Looking back, I can't recall the title or author of the book I stumbled upon in the library, but I do remember that my hands wouldn't stop trembling after I finished reading it; the disgust, horror, and anger that rose within me then have yet to leave.
I have long since stopped pretending that stories are just stories. They echo the truth, they express the innermost emotions of humanity, and they contain answers to questions people never bothered to ask. Maybe that's why I read so much: fiction or nonfiction, fantasy or memoir, somewhere there has to be an explanation for humanity's behavior and there has to be a way to halt our crimes.
Why do the horrors never cease? I come from a country where bombs exploding in market places and men slaughtering hundreds of school children have become yesterday's news.
Why does racism still exist? Even in Canada, I can't truly escape the critical eyes of society as they study my brown skin, my hijab, and my immigrant parents and then deem me unworthy.
How much has the world really changed since the Holocaust? Genocides still happen and people still watch while others die. Some call it human nature.
I call it ignorance.
Most people simply don't know, or if they know, they don't want to understand, or if they understand, they shove the problem away to a corner of their mind and forget. But I'm a sixteen year old girl who doesn't know what major to choose in college, let alone how to change the world. What can I do to change their minds?
I can write.
If Facing History has taught me anything, it's that you can't just label an event as a tragedy and walk away; you have to confront it, strip away the complex layers of motives and causes in the hopes that you will become closer to understanding what lies at the core of humanity. I'm sick of indifference and whether it's through social media, newspaper articles, novels, or survivor stories, I don't intend to let the world turn away anymore. I want to be like Deborah Ellis when she interviewed Israeli and Palestinian children in her book Three Wishes, in an effort to convey that their diverse wishes all stemmed from the simple, human desire for happiness. I want to use stories to force people to notice, to break down their walls of prejudices, to dissolve their hatred, to build bridges between communities so that maybe someone will realize, "We're not so different after all."
Benjamin Ferencz knew that "creating a world of tolerance and compassion would be a long and arduous task," but he fought for justice because he believed that it could be achieved. Even if my dream isn't attained in my lifetime, it's worth it if I can become a "Watcher of the Sky" and work towards developing awareness and compassion in humanity, one word at a time.