Women and children waiting in a small wooded area near Crematorium IV.
Yad Vashem: The Auschwitz Album
We are surrounded by evil.
New reports boil over with tales of depravity, murder, and rape.
And of course, evil is enabled by those who claim the mantle of human rights.
Jaycee Dugard, kidnapped when she was 11-years old and kept as a sex slave for eighteen years.
Children are held hostage, raped and then massacred by Islamo Nazis.
The British and Scottish governments release the Lockerbie mass murderer in exchange for favorable oil leases. This is truly a case of blood for oil—a charge gleefully hurled at President George Bush by the self-righteous left.
How can this happen?
People look for explanations, root-causes. In screenplays we try and provide motivation.
Prime excuses are:
1. Bad childhood.
4. In short, victims of: fill-in-the blank.
Ignored in this post-modern world is the simplest and most authentic explanation:
Evil exists and the failure to recognize and deal with it makes not for a more compassionate society, but a society that excuses, tolerates and enables evil. A society that devalues life and justice.
Among the chattering classes, the existence of evil is denied. Moral equivalence posits that there is no way to measure goodness or evil for in their favorite mantra: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
In this degraded philosophical stance totalitarians like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are elevated to heroic status, and Israel/Jews are regularly demonized by the oh-so-fashionable left.
There are 613 positive and negative mitzvot—commandments—in the Torah. Judaism regulates behavior because the Torah recognizes that evil is seductive.
Evil is, well, an easy option.
More mysterious is goodness.
Last night, I picked up Karen at LAX. A close friend, on the same flight, needed a ride home.
As we drove through the streets—I take the scenic route, bypassing the freeway—our friend told us a compelling story.
A story about goodness.
During the war, her father-in-law was imprisoned in a labor camp. Food was scarce. Giving food and shelter to a Jew was a crime whose penalty was torture and execution. Informers were everywhere for the typical Polish peasant imbibed Jew-hatred in his mother’s milk.
“There was a Polish woman,” said our friend, ”who used to sneak up to the wall and press food through a small crack in the bricks. In this way, feeding my father-in-law. She did this for years. Kept him alive. After the war, my father and mother-in-law returned to Poland. They only knew her name, Olecza Strelaka, but sure enough they found her.”
“I guess they thanked her, helped her out financially?”
“They brought her back to America to live with them.”
“For how long?”
I almost lost control of the car.
Karen said: ”She lived with your in-laws her entire life?”
“Yes, until she died.”
Karen said: “Did you ever ask her why she did what she did?”
“I couldn’t. She only spoke Polish.”
“She never acculturated?” Karen asks.
“No, not at all. Thank G-d she was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations.”
“Was she a religious Catholic?” The screenwriter in me looking for, you know, motivation.
“No, not really. I don’t think she went to Church very often.”
Later, as Karen and I discussed Olecza Strelaka, a supremely righteous woman, I offered this:
“I’ll bet if you asked her why she brought food to the labor camp she would probably shrug her shoulders and mumble something about it being the right thing to do. No big deal.”
But it is a big deal.
In a world where murder, rape, torture, corruption and genocide are the norm, goodness remains the greatest mystery of all.