The horrors of Nazism seem like a distant past, irrelevant, somehow impossible and like a dream; but of this dream the movement we call Existentialism was born, or better the sentiment, a certain feeling beneath all actions done in an absurd world, a meaningless life.
Absurd? Meaningless? Yes, the two world wars, now so long ago, did crush the hopes of all but those not facing the truth.
Our mundane existence, the everyday experiences of getting up, getting dressed, tying shoe laces, working and eating and going back to bed, they are the only existence there is, the only meaning, and death, so distant to us now, was decided arbitrarily by Nazi command, considering your breath worthy or simply snuffing it out in the whim of a bad mood. No matter. No matter who. It could have been me. It could have been you. What makes life worthwhile and livable? What makes one think it is important? What makes one consider big questions that mean nothing when thrown in a mass grave with hundreds or thousands of others who might have had the same ideas, now silent, never to be voiced.
Have you ever looked at a high riser downtown at night? All the lights. Not the offices. The homes. Millions of them. And behind every light, behind every window, another story. A long story, or a short one, but a life story. Each one as worthy as the one above or below, right or left of it. And life, or death, is as real behind those windows as it is to the one writing.
I understand the philosophies of meaning. They hold this world together. Were every person a Nietzsche or Camus, we would all commit collective suicide and humanity would cease to exist. And so we live by dreams, or nightmares, but the reminders are needed, the reminders that it is just fantasy. The moment this becomes confused you have born the fanatic.
God died in the ovens of Auschwitz, and those who don’t believe that need to visit the place. Explain why. Explain why involved, not theoretical. Explain why alive, living, knowing your life will end. Explain why without the idea that this reality is really just a dream, a journey, a better one to come. You can’t, and that’s why the dreams remain.
You cannot face reality without dreams and lies. If you do, you will either go mad or commit suicide.
I’m watching a movie called “A Few Days In April”. A true story that happened near the end of WWII near where I come from in Southern Germany. Three wagons of KZ prisoners were left by the SS in the train station of a small town. The wagons remain guarded, the prisoners dying, the town well aware as the moans cannot be hidden. People try to help, but not sure. Nazi command is swift and out of nowhere. The Americans are sought to arrive soon, but not sure either. The shots are only distant, the SS showing up at will. Eventually the wagons are gone and the story becomes history nobody wants to talk about. The prisoners were never freed. The wagons were never found. Only two skeletons dug up in the 80’s in that train station reminded an old woman of something she tried to forget, and hence the movie.
Today “we” have / had Korea and Vietnam, Bosnia and Iraq, Afghanistan. What about Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, Burma, the Sudan… and the list is not endless but long? Whoever helps is a good help, and that includes missionaries, but in the end, what are we to make of it?
I have no answer, but I refuse to accept the answers given. No, there is an answer, I just haven’t found it yet.