This morning, exactly one week before Christmas Eve, I had to explain the Holocaust to my 7-year-old son. He’d overheard me mention a post I’d seen on Facebook about someone who helped an old man, and at first I said, “You don’t need to know about that. You’re too little.”
But after my husband went to work, I thought about it again, and I realized that I had to tell him something. It’s history. It happened. There is nothing more dangerous than ignorance.
So I sat him down and explained about a very evil man who hated Jewish people, and how he did bad, bad things. I didn’t explain what, exactly. He’s too little for much of that. But I pointed out that even in that ugliness, there were people who risked their lives to help. Sometimes they gave their lives to help. He needed to look for the helpers.
Well, he wasn’t satisfied with that. He wanted to know if it would happen again, and how to stop another Hitler. So I realized that I couldn’t save him from this–he needed to know what he could do.
So I said, “You can make a difference and you can stop an evil man by using your voice. If you see that people are being mistreated, you can say something. Your voice matters, and every time you stand up for someone else, you’re making the world better. And as you get bigger, you’ll keep using your voice. That’s how we’ll stop evil men like that.”
And he felt better. So we put on our boots and coats and started our walk to school. And when I got back, I sat down in front of my computer, and I was deeply grateful for the internet. Now, I’m normally a person who gets very overwhelmed with the flood online, but today I realized that this is how voices get heard. This is how people stand up and say, “I don’t hate. That isn’t fair. They are people, too. This has to stop.” And enough voices do make a difference. They have to—I have a little boy who is counting on it.
At very least, we can echo the angels:
Peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.