Seldom does one find it difficult, if not impossible, to put into words what one deeply feels in one’s heart. I faced one such situation last week when a group of us from my parish made a visit to one of the infamous Nazi concentration camps in upper Austria. The horror stories of such camps that one reads only in books began to come alive. The more I saw the specific locations and photographs of those cruel happenings of that period the more the question kept haunting me: “How could some human beings be so cruel to other human beings? Why could they not feel their pain?” By the evening I was completely drained out carrying a sure conviction that only when a man’s soul is dead within that he could conceive of such inhuman atrocities.
I also hung my head in shame thinking if many of the camp overseers executing Hitler’s orders were not at one time or the other associated with Christianity. I kept questioning if they had never heard Jesus’ commandment, “Love your neighbour as yourself”, and “do to others what you would want them to do to you”. I later learnt that if Hitler had won the war he would have abolished Christianity and religion altogether.
The one encouraging aspect of the trip was to know that it was organised by an NGO, whose members are keenly aware of the dangers of the repeat of such barbarism that keeps raising its head every now and then in various parts of the world. I also gathered that there are several NGOs in both Austria and Germany, which continue to educate people of their own shameful past. “Lest we forget”, is the motto with which they organise different programmes so that such things never ever occur again.
While these concentration camps ended in 1945 after World War II, the Indian subcontinent sadly saw an equally inhuman sight during the Partition of India in 1947. Many people witnessing such unspeakable sufferings wrought upon by other humans lost their faith in God. “Why and how could God allow such powers to operate and if God was not sleeping, blind, deaf or indeed dead?” they justifiably wondered.
These questions keep troubling those who believe in a benevolent God. On the other hand, it also keeps reminding us that if we do not keep a watch, a little spark of hate in our hearts against other human beings can turn so monstrous so as to annihilate not only the hated but also the hater himself.
Let us then realise that hatred breeds only more hatred and that only love can overcome hatred. The Bible advises us: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God”....