Humanity is a word. As with any other word, it lumps everything into one category. But our society is anything but one anything. We are wildly different in a myriad of ways. In this country in particular we are hopelessly divided. Politics and self-interest are everywhere. In many cases people are angry and hostile. I posted a meme about people hoarding supplies and one of my friends commented “Fucking Democrats” as a response. I told him that there is no room for that on my page, he’s a Freemason like myself. Inappropriate, unacceptable and unnecessary. But very common these days.
I was mortified…then inspired.
I re-watched Schindler’s List today.You may think it is an odd choice given its horrific content but it was exactly what I needed on a day otherwise filled with doom and gloom, stories of people behaving badly and charts showing rapidly spreading red spots on the maps of our country and the world. I needed a dose of Humanity. Is there a better movie or topic to remind us of what we are and what we can be if left to our own devices?
There a lot of people doing a lot of good things. People helping their neighbors, donating vital supplies to medical professionals, donating their time. But there are a lot of people behaving badly and they put me in the mood for a refresher.
Right now there are people with a 6 month to a year’s supply of toilet paper and disinfecting supplies. More milk and bread than they can ever consume. Vital supplies have been hoarded to “stock up” or sell at tremendous markups for personal gain. All while others, especially the elderly who aren’t fast enough to race in the store and strong enough to fight the mobs, go without. Many now have too much while others have none at all.
Enter Schindler’s List. A critical scene (one of many) is of a boy selling caramels in a crowd of people who are fairly aware that they are going to either die or suffer tremendously. The boy sells the tiny candies at a tremendous profit and one of the people remarks “What is he going to do with the money?”
Is it worth it to take a “Fuck everyone” mentality? Was it really the first instinct of a LOT of people to hoard and deny? Are we ok with the most vulnerable among us going without?
Bad situations bring out the best and the worst of us. Schindler’s List is a sobering and wonderful reminder of what we are capable of doing and also what we are capable of not doing. The German people were capable of being spectators as murder on a inconceivable scale occurred. The Jews were capable of banding together under horrific circumstances to save each other. If you have seen the movie there is a scene in which some women, pre-physical by the Nazi’s, cut their fingers and shared their blood to wipe on each others face to look healthy. To avoid execution. Some shared tiny hiding spaces in walls and floors.
And some didn’t
Some had room and turned people away. Many Jews sold their souls to save themselves. They took jobs to help the Nazi’s in the form of liaisons. Under the guise of “helping” with lists and other horrific housekeeping they were complicit in sending their own people to their deaths as they stood and watched. I always wondered how they lived with themselves. Even though I know the answer. When faced with terrible times, sometimes people make the wrong decision.
Oskar Schindler made the right one. He tried to help. He is an extreme example because he gave his actual everything to save as many people as he could but the fact is that he thought of others when he could have easily only thought of and protected himself.
I am as high risk as humanly possible in the face of this virus. I’m immunosuppressed and on dialysis. I shouldn’t even leave the house but I will if I find that there is someone who needs assistance in shopping, getting medications or other needs. My first instinct is of course to protect myself, but not so powerful as to forget other people. We’re not Democrats or Republicans. We’re not gay or straight. We’re not Millenials, Gen X or Z’ers. We’re not those who believe Pineapple belongs on pizza vs. those who don’t. We are all people and we have to come to one critical realization.
We’re all in this together.
Humanity. It’s not just a word. Let’s be human.