Consecutive Days Riding: 31 Consecutive Days Blogging: 32
Today’s Mileage: 7 Total Trip Mileage: 287
Holidays and Holy Days on : November 9, 2009
Celebration of the Fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9th 1989.
I spoke yesterday about the importance of Pilgrimages of Remembrance and we visited a site that houses the memories of the Jewish community in south Florida. It seems to me that sites of remembrance can exist on three levels: First on a personal level for an individual or family, such as the roadside memorials that spring up after car accidents that claimed the life of a loved one or returning to a childhood home. Second, a site may be representative of a community’s shared memories, like the museum we visited yesterday or a local war memorial. And third a remembrance site may speak a more universal message, to countries (as with Independence Hall in Philadelphia), a religion (like Mecca to Muslims) or to all of mankind.
The site we are visiting today represents this type of universal site. It has a message for the whole world. The occurence of the holocaust, while doubted by some, is accepted as one of the low points in human history. It carries an important message and a warning of the extreme degree to which human motivations can turn against the welfare of other human beings. The aftermath of WWII left the world reeling not just because of the level of destruction visited on both the east and west, but because of the questions it raised about human nature and the source of evil.
Is evil a separate entity that gained control over a nation and directed it to destroy other nations and peoples? Is there a God, and if so how could he let so many innocent people die? How could a Christian nation (Germany) become this evil monster? Is evil a dark side that resides within all of us, held in check by our better side? Is evil a deviation of our human nature to love and care for others, that can be strongly influenced and hijacked by outside forces (political movements, religions and cults)?
I don’t have answers to these questions, as most of them are better left to philosophers and theologians. As a therapist I do witness people struggling with the choices between healthy and prosocial versus addictive and selfish choices. I agree with Abraham Maslow the Humanistic Personality theorist that the “pull” of deficiency needs (sustenance, safety, possession, ego, etc) is for many individuals stronger than the being needs (self-actualization). Like the line for the Indigo Girls song Closer to Fine that states: “Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.” I believe it is crucial that we as individuals and as a community and nation, ask the hard questions. How do we ensure that our better nature and needs predominate over those needs that subjugate, demean and lead ultimately to the destruction of other human beings?
I believe this struggle between good and evil rages within all of us. I believe it is a spiritual journey and struggle. I hope you find today’s visit to the Holocaust Memorial of Miami to be insightful. It will jolt you, as it has me, to remember that individual choices can and do contribute to larger movements. Please ask yourself: do these movements represent and promote growth and connectedness or decay and separation from others?
Now please visit the site by clicking on the Pilgrimage Site button at the top of the page.