FAITH column 7 May, 2017
As a 14-year-old Jewish girl reading “The Diary of Anne Frank”, I was confronted with a confusing conundrum about human nature. Anne’s family sought refuge from the murderous intent of the Nazis and their supporters and yet at the same time, two non-Jewish Dutchmen took an altruistic, albeit dangerous risk to hide them. They were not the only ones who concealed Jews.
This dichotomy about the good and evil of human nature, played out on a daily basis on the news with tragic happenings around the world, is testimony to some people’s perfidy, not just barbaric terrorists but also governments’ betraying their own populace with poisonous warfare, inhuman laws and corrupt practices.
Contextually, my attempt to understand people’s inhumanity to others often defies rational comprehension, switching off the nightly news before the final curtain as seeing skeletal children with malnutrition or bloodied and dead is too disturbing, preferring to just stop the world and get off, at least temporarily.
Within our own social milieu where most people live reasonably comfortable and safe lives, there are reminders every day of human abandonment, be it the homeless living on the streets, the unemployed struggling to survive and find work or violence perpetrated behind closed doors in suburbia.
However, reflection about humans engaging in wanton destruction against others should be counterbalanced by appreciating the humane and compassionate deeds of many good and brave people attending to the injured and dying amidst deadly mortar attacks, delivering food and water to sustain life in perilous environs and those fighting for human rights jeopardising their own lives.
As ordinary humans, most of us have experienced some antipathetic betrayal of our trust and faith, be it by a close friend, a former lover, a respected priest, a trusted doctor, a colleague in our workplace or a family relative, among others. The emotional intensity of that violation may be less traumatic than living in a war zone and starving in a famine, nonetheless our faith in human nature can be undermined as we ponder some people’s cruelty towards us.
Irrespectively, maintaining strong faith in caring, considerate and courageous people is paramount as Anne Frank wrote just three months before her family was discovered: “… how good the people are about me…” and furthermore, recall the words of Palestinian paediatrician, Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, who, after losing three daughters in an Israeli military assault in Gaza in 2008, wrote in “I Shall Not Hate”: “Whatever you do, if it is done (sincerely)…for the betterment of others…things (can happen) as you envision..(they will)”.