Parallel Stories

About a year and a half ago, my family and I had the privilege of stepping foot into the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam - where the Frank family, the Van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer hid from the wretched Nazis. The Secret Annex, as it was called, was home to Anne Frank for 761 days. Stepping foot onto the same ground that these families once did during this unfathomable time was overwhelming. Not that words come naturally to me, but during this instance, there were none to describe it. Emotions such as anger, grief, overwhelming, hope, and courage all swirled together creating knots in my stomach for the rest of the day.


I recently watched a documentary titled Parallel Stories, hosted by Helen Mirren. It highlights Anne Frank's life and interviews survivors and their families. It also follows a present day young woman and her journey across Europe, following Anne's foot prints. It is a poignant film - one that I think is a reminder for today's age about what can happen if we don't listen and educate ourselves about the past.


Where else am I going with this post? To the present day. To people complaining about being cooped up all day inside with nothing to do. To people complaining that it should be "all lives matter". To people who are taking advantage of others, proposing laws that are hurtful and negative without reason, and people pointing fingers at others instead of looking in the mirror.


We begin to see the parallel life. And I call it parallel, because it is not exact. No one can walk the exact same path as someone else their entire life. It is not physically possible as we all have individual thoughts, emotions, and footprints. Nonetheless, there are profound similarities.


Put this COVID-19 life in perspective. If you have been fortunate enough to test negative, or not have symptoms, and to not know anyone who has passed from the corona virus, you, my friend, are lucky in this way. Step back and realize that the person driving in the car next to you, the person walking their dog across the street, the person restocking shelves at the supermarket, or your next door neighbor may not have been so lucky. Be kind to others, and don't take life for granted.


Now take yourself to July of 1943. You are in the Secret Annex. You are surrounded by 7 others, sharing a bedroom with an acquaintance, and having to be quiet throughout the entire day. There is no Netflix, internet, the ability to walk outside to get fresh air, not even an open window. But there is a journal, photographs, others to whisper with, and the kind souls who bring water, food and news of the outside world. Could you live like that? Could you live in the fear that at any time you could be discovered, taken away, and murdered?


Put it in perspective.


Put #BlackLivesMatter in perspective. The Black population in America, and around the world, has been ridiculed, looked down upon, and killed by police officers and white people for centuries. For no other reason than the fact that they are black. The police have used unnecessary force and brutality (a mild term, I know) when arresting black men and women, sometimes murdering them. White people have screamed racist, nasty remarks to black people TO THIS DAY for no reason. NO REASON. I don't care if a black person did commit a crime they were being arrested for. They have every right that a white person does if this white person committed the same crime. Both commit petty theft of $100? Treat them equally. Arrest them equally. Allow them to have the same charges against them. Do you see a black man walking down the street with a hoodie on? Didn't you just see a white man with a hoodie on walking down the same street a few minutes ago? Your instinct should be: oh look, there have been two men walking down the road each wearing hoodies. Cool. Nothing else. No distinction of race. Just two men walking down the road with hoodies on a few minutes apart. Your words, actions, reactions, and thoughts will encourage others who have been misguided to understand that Black Lives Matter. They should not be judged by the color of their skin. They are human, just like you. They have dreams, goals, and needs. They, too, have a heart, a mind, and a soul. Rise up for Black Lives Matter. It takes a village.


Now take yourself to 1945, when WWII ended. The Jewish Population lost 6 million of their own during the Holocaust. Another multi-million others also lost their lives. For no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, or not a part of "The Pure Race". Hatred, fear, and propaganda fueled the ignorant people who believed and followed Hitler's ideas. Those who stood up against the Nazi's, secretly or publicly, lived with the threat of being caught and killed. These were the heroes that knew that Jewish lives mattered as much as their own. And yet, they didn't complain that they were risking their own lives, and maybe even their family's lives, to save the Jews from death.


Put it in perspective.


Take some time today for yourself, and put everything in perspective.


Now I leave you with the poignant words that Anne Frank wrote on the inside cover of her diary:


Be kind, and have courage.

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