Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Let us all unite! Rescue! Stand up! Make Peace!

I teach a course on antisemitism, the Holocaust (Shoah) and the history of genocide.

Every class session, I tell learners the quote by Yehuda Bauer: 

“Do not be a perpetrator. Do not be a bystander. Do not be a victim.”

Every class session I give them the Marty Michelson version - with it's supplemental inversion!

“Do not be a perpetrator. Do not be a bystander. Do not be a victim.  Be a rescuer!  Be an upstander!  Be a peacemaker!"

  • Not being a perpetrator is important  . . . and we must also actively be peacemakers!
  • Not being a bystander is important . . . and we must also actively stand-up for others!
  • Not being a victim is important . . . and we must also be people who rescue victims and victimizers!

I end the final hours of the course each semester with the moral courage and vision of communal life embodied in the village of LeChambon sur Lignon. presented in the book by Phillip Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood be Shed.  I show portions of a film that parallels the book, Weapons of the Spirit.  I point out, in particular, a petite, elderly woman who brushes aside any aspect of heroism in the fact that she rescued from death many children!  "It's simple," she says.  She saved people because it was the right thing to do.  While millions of persons participated in hatred, she found rescue simple, and she acted on it!

I end the last class session of the semester, in the final minutes, with this great speech (the history of which can be found here) by Charlie Chaplin.  The Speech is remarkable for many things - not least of which, it was the first film in which Charlie Chaplin ever spoke!  (His characters only pantomimed!)  And, the Speech has provocative power, as I invite you to experience here:

(Transcript of speech here.)

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

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