Recently, at the University, a student expressed her thoughts on the Holocaust.
The class was discussing a mass grave found in what is now a city park but at the time of the Holocaust, the park was located in the woods. The debate raged in the town of what to do with the site. Should it be re-purposed as a memorial or continue in its current use as a park and simply fence off the area around the grave and put up a marker?
The student explained that "the dead just don't care. They don't know what is going on. Since people have been playing Frisbee there for this long, why wreck it for them?" And "Why do we have to put up statues and stuff anyway? Look at the Romans. They put up all this junk all over Rome. Does anyone care now what happened in Rome back then? Do we still care about what battles they won or what gods they worshiped?"
Most of the students in the class are History majors. The throw down was on. They enthusiastically informed the student of the importance of studying Rome and history in general.
Then a student quoted Santayana. "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
The first student smiled and said "How many genocides have happened since the Holocaust. Do you think we are going to stop killing each other because we know about the Romans?"
The first student should change studies and continue in politics, an area full of demagogy. History is not about counting victories and losses nor about remembering names. It is about researching contexts and connections, causes and effects. Not the questions "When did it happen?" is essential, but "Why did it happen?"
As long as we do not respect human beings, do not respect human lifes, we won't be able to avoid new genocides, due to the lack of respect.
Those who pledge that we should keep playing on graves, expose their stupidity.
It was fascinating to sit and watch the debate with this student. Most in the class were outraged, but not everyone in the class could express their feelings or thoughts. At that point the debate became heated and the instructor had to intervene.
So much was said in that discussion, even when no words were spoken.