The Face of Courage

Anne Frank. June 12, 1929 - February 1945
She died just 3 months before the end of the war.

"We have been pointedly reminded that we are in hiding, that we are Jews in chains, chained to one spot, without any rights, but with a thousand duties. We Jews mustn't show our feelings, must be brave and strong, must accept all inconveniences and not grumble, must do what is within our power and trust in God. Sometime this terrible war will be over. Surely the time will come when we are people again, and not just Jews.

Who has inflicted this upon us? Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now? It is God that has made us as we are, but it will be God, too, who will raise us up again. If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example. Who knows, it might even be our religion from which the world and all peoples learn good, and for that reason and that reason only do we have to suffer now. We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English, or representatives of any country for that matter, we will always remain Jews, but we want to, too.

Be brave! Let us remain aware of our task and not grumble, a solution will come, God has never deserted our people. Right through the ages there have been Jews, through all the ages they have had to suffer, but it has made them strong too; the weak fall, but the strong will remain and never go under!

- Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

I finished this book yesterday; it is truly remarkable.


Study Break!

... 45 golden seconds of my life ...


Why I Like Real Life.

This is Post 100. It is also quite a behemoth.

I'm not apologizing.

Real life is so much better than TV. On television, things happen too perfectly: Even when people are fighting, they quip back and forth with crisply tailored comebacks or catty remarks that belie a script-writer behind the scenes, and a director that made them do it over and over again until the actress achieved the perfect piercing glare, and the cameraman caught the actor grit his teeth at just the right moment.

That's not the way it is in real life. In real life, people get so mad that they say things that they don't mean, or they can't figure out what to say at all - and their body language gets all confused. No, an actual fight contains much to actual emotion to be put on TV. It's too real. They cry or plead or beg - sometimes in incredibly inappropriate places, like across the table from me at the library - and rehash the same issues without making progress for so long that any television viewer would pick up the remote and change the channel.

On TV there is no place for actual interaction. Even on so-called "reality shows" we are inundated with "real people" thrown into the most bizarre of scenarios. Is it "reality" to assemble a dozen CEOs of various companies and pit them against each other in The Apprentice? Is it "reality" to gather a smattering of social firecrackers and force them to live with each other for days, weeks, months, and watch them drive each other crazy?

No, reality is riding public transportation home and listening to a teenage boy riddled with piercings strike up a conversation with a clean-cut graduate student about cowlicks, hair transplants, and why hair grows weird sometimes. I like being able to feel (without even looking at them) the tug-of-war between politeness and cautious suspicion on the part of the student, and the uncertain show of bravery the teenager put on as he tried to impress his gothic-clad and nervous-looking girlfriend. You would never see that on TV. The conversation was full of weird interchange, halting, jarring starts and stops. They called each other "mister" and "sir" and "dude" all in the same breath. I liked it. I liked the true, the actual, reality of it.

If something like that was a script written for television, it would have been edited until somebody got stabbed, or at the other extreme, all the occupants of the train bursting forth into song like a remake of Enchanted.

I like real things. I like real life because it doesn't really tell you what to do or to think like the media does, it just lets us believe what we wish to believe, and then we get to live the consequences. In real life, we are in an arena of doing. Instead of watching the news and hearing about all the terrible happenings in the world - and then being told to "stay tuned" through the next commercial break, how about breaking away from that television telling you to stay rooted in your chair and actually doing something about all that horrible news you keep hearing about?

What are you going to do about it? How about joining a boys and girls club? How about volunteering at a shelter, a hospital, a senior living center? How about taking a bit of the world you don't like and squashing it with a little more hard work or a little more charity? Surely over the course of your life you have discovered ways that you were a little more gifted than the other people around you - but how are you going to share it? How will you use it?

As the media guiltily sweeps under the rug the consequences of poor choices, real life stands in brilliant contrast: because real life is real and your actions do have tangible consequences! That fact is bad news only if you insist on continuing to make bad choices. You are in control of your life - so stop complaining about the things you don't like and start doing something about it! You can have the life you want. Just envision consequences you need, and act.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi