Jacky Leonard's blog

Archive entries for: Mar-2012

Hope Springs Eternal

Categories:  Life Balance and Wellbeing

I recently returned from a fascinating holiday with my sister in the Red Sea.  As well as spending a week on a catamaran in Israeli and Jordanian waters (collecting a lot of stamps in my passport), we were lucky enough to enjoy excursions to Jerusalem and Petra; both incredible places for different reasons. 

One of the most moving experiences was a visit to the Holocaust museum.  The atrocities the human race is capable of committing never cease to astonish and horrify me.  The mindless brutality people have inflicted on each other throughout our relatively short time on this planet beggars belief.  Sadly, often these violent acts have been carried out in the name of religion. 

I was reminded of one of my favourite quotes by the Dalai Lama; "If asked my religion I would say it was kindness."  Perhaps if more people shared this ‘philosophy’ there would be less suffering, greed and envy and more consideration for ourselves and others.  This, of course starts with being kind to yourself.

For me, one of the most profound and thought provoking pieces on display (and there were many) was a poem by the Protestant Pastor and social activist Martin Niemöller.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

It takes no courage to keep a low profile, rather than stand up and be counted; to judge others solely on their behaviour, rather than seeking to find their intentions; to criticise others, rather than admit our own shortcomings; to tolerate what we know to be wrong because we fear the consequences. 

As I walked alone around the museum I felt a deep sadness and questioned my own beliefs, I considered how I might have behaved in similar circumstances.  My conclusion was that I hoped I’d have had the courage to step up, but honestly had doubts I would, and frankly wouldn’t be sorry if I never have to make that call.

I also found myself reflecting on my own blessed life with a huge sense of gratitude for my health, happiness, friends and family.  Surprisingly perhaps I left with hope…a sincere hope that we will, at some point, take responsibility and learn from the mistakes of the past and begin to appreciate each other for the rich, complex, diverse characters we are and learn to live in harmony with each other.

I continue to live in hope!