Never Again. The mantra has deep personal meaning for me: never again should any innocent human being endure what my grandparents went through; never again should an entire people be subjected to ethnic cleansing. Unfortunately, our world holds no such reality.
Many descendants of Holocaust survivors still carry the trauma that their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents endured. Holding on to this trauma leads to feelings of fear, alienation, and brokenness. It is a vicious cycle, because actions that stem from a sense of alienation tend to further one’s own isolation, and can lead to a blind hatred of the “other.” This cycle, caused by our trauma, prevents us from working to fulfill the injunction of never again.
How can we break the cycle of trauma? By stepping out of our comfort zones and engaging with those who look, seem, act, speak, and believe differently.
When I was younger I truly believed that I could really change the world. Growing up and coming to the realization that I, myself, could not bring world peace was crushing. The easy response would be to accept this reality and choose a life of blissful ignorance. And for some years, I did. But I did not feel whole; eventually, I realized that I must do something.
So, how could I make an impact on the world’s conflicts? By being an agent of peace and understanding. By questioning “truths.” By being open to those with radically different opinions. By stepping outside my comfort zone and joining the NYC Muslim Jewish Solidarity Committee (NYCMJSC).
It’s a strange paradox that while the world media tend to stereotype and discriminate against both Jews and Muslims, they also perpetuate the myth of the age-old “Muslim-Jewish conflict,” and sensationalize the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The NYCMJSC works against these misconceptions. We do not let the media define our cultures, our enemies, and our actions. We get to know each other—at meetings and events, on the phone and through e-mail chains. We build bridges and respect one another. Because, at the core of discrimination-based hatred, is ignorance of the unknown—the perennial “other.”
We’re making a small difference in our corner of the world by treating each other with love. And this is just the beginning.