Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Look what can happen if you close your eyes and turn away

Serendipity brought me to a web page which led back to the BBC's report on RESPECTacles, the Holocaust memorial set up in the Town Hall in Liverpool for Holocaust Memorial Day.

It's hard to look at, because it is moving and eloquent. It seems appropriate, and thought-provoking, these piles of spectacles donated by people around Liverpool, some with messages attached, some from survivors, some from celebrities.

It's painful to look back and see what happened to the people sent away for concentration camps. It's easy to think that it was a problem of a different age, and that it wouldn't happen again.

Some years ago I watched a very moving documentary which was being filmed in the former Yugoslavia... it started with two neighbours, lifelong friends. One had hidden the other's son during the Second World War. You would have said that they would be friends forever, come what may. By the end of the film, they found themselves on different sides of the conflict. It made me realise that the strongest bonds can be broken when you are in fear for your life, even the bonds to your own integrity, to the beliefs and dreams that make you the person you are.

Only by becoming alert to any attempt to dehumanise people, to put other people into a different category of humanity, can we prevent this happening to other people in the future. It's one of the reasons why I think it is important to close down Guantanamo Bay, and to use one standrard of human rights for all.

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