Never Forget–Never Let It Happen Again

Today, January 27, 2017, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day was established on November 1, 2005, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. It is also the day in 1945 when the Auschwitz-Birkenau death/concentration camp was liberated. Over 6 million Jewish, 2 million Romani, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled, and 9,000 homosexual men (Wikipedia) died as the result of the Holocaust.

Some of you may be saying, “Gee, thanks for the history lesson. What does this have to do with me here in the 21st Century?”

It has everything to do with you.

The common phrase associated with the Holocaust is Never Forget. That phrase is more than just some catchy advertising campaign. Never Forget is what those who survived the Holocaust tell us because they not only want us to never forget what happened to the millions of people under the savage reign of the Nazis, but they want us to make certain it never happens again. Unfortunately, it has in places like Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

It happens when groups of people are set apart as being the cause of problems from loss of jobs to terrorism. We hear it today from the current incumbent of the White House who calls Mexican people “criminals” and “rapists” and “killers”. He blames violent crimes on Blacks and Hispanics. He’s called for a ban on Muslims. He’s signed executive orders to ban Muslims from immigrating and to build a wall to keep Mexicans out. He has also taken action that would be detrimental to the LGBTQIA community. His words are reflected in the actions of his supporters who go on the attack against these groups of people and some of whom, frighteningly enough, also fly the flag of the Nazis or engage in the salute of that same group.

Never Forget also means to never let it happen again. If we never let it happen again to the Jewish people or to any other group that is discriminated against, that honors the victims of the Holocaust. No group of people should face those horrors again.

The numbers of Holocaust survivors are dwindling as that population ages. Their call to us should never cease, even when the last survivor dies.

We must act against prejudice and violence against marginalized people!

We must STAND UP to those who bully, threaten, or attack marginalized people!

We must act against laws that discriminate against other people!

Now is not the time to simply Never Forget, but it is a time to ACT against future atrocities!

Even if it doesn’t personally affect you now, there’s nothing to say it will not affect you or someone you love in the future. Therefore, STAND UP and ACT UP against prejudice and violence wherever you encounter it. Whether it is contacting your elected officials or marching in the streets, it is up to US to Never Forget and NEVER let it happen again.

A little bit about me

I am choosing to share something on my blog that is unrelated to my usual subjects. Rather than talk about politics, religion, social issues, education, or something of a more global matter, I am going to allow you into a bit about me as a person. Maybe it will inspire you or make you otherwise feel better about life or yourself. Maybe it might cause you to make a change in your life for the better. All I ask is that you do not make derogatory commentary on what I have to say. Otherwise, I’ll simply delete your rude commentary and block you from my blog. (I know, big deal, right?) Well, here goes nothing.

372 pounds. Yes, you read that correctly. Three hundred seventy-two pounds. Not exactly healthy. My blood pressure was through the roof to the point where my new doctor refused to allow me to leave the office after my physical until it dropped closer to being simply a high reading. Pant size? An embarrassing size 52.

That is where I was in February 2013. We just moved from Florida to Canada with my wife’s three to five year, temporary assignment for her job. I, for the first time in over 20 years, found myself unemployed due to that job transfer. My wife deemed this to me my time to reinvent myself.

Now, allow me to digress and focus on that term. Reinvent. It’s a complicated word when it comes to anything, but especially a person’s life. I find it almost as complicated as the fundamentalist Christian phrase of born again, which is physically impossible let alone gross when you think of the birth process. Here I was at the age of 45, having spent the previous 12 years teaching high school English and obtaining two Master degrees, and now facing having to reinvent myself. Might as well ask me to chuck the whole last 29 years of my life and tell me to start from scratch again. Wait, that is what the process of reinventing oneself essentially means. It means taking everything you learned and placing it on a shelf while you figure out what the hell to actually do with that store of knowledge when you cannot do that which you have been doing with it in your recent past.

Well, I have started to reinvent myself, in the case of this particular piece, reinventing my physical self. Shortly after that traumatic trip to the doctor’s, I joined Weight Watchers near my home. Talk about a trip into the unknown. I walked into the meeting site, held ironically on the second floor of a grocery where the smells of the deli and bakery waft up and fill the floor with their aromas, and into a room filled with middle to older aged women. There were only two men in the room, me and one other gentleman. He was easily 10 to 15 years my senior. (I being 45 at the time). It’s one thing to have your weight known by a doctor, but by a receptionist and a leader, both women, was another thing. I wondered if I would be judged much like I used to be judged by my doctor when I was a youth. Back then, he used to walk into the room and announce to me that I was fat. As I grew older, he continued to do this making me want to simply tell him something like, “No shit, asshole. I’ve been this way for a number of years now and all you ever do is tell me I’m fat, yet offer no advice as to how I might fix that!” Between my own doctor’s degrading comments and those of a vast majority of my classmates, teachers, and friends, I developed a great amount of low self esteem when it came to my physical attributes.

Wonderfully enough, the leader, receptionist, and other members of the group never saw me that way. They viewed me as a fellow human being on a journey to trying to be healthier along with them. Many became, and I hope they do not mind my saying this, my foster moms and grandmothers as they encourage me to keep with the program.

Sorry, I digressed again. This is not a commercial for Weight Watchers. They’d likely be upset if it were since I do not have a contract to promote their products.

As of about 4 weeks ago, I have embarked on another major step in my journey to better health and taken up running. Yes, you read that correctly, running. A person who weighed in at 372 pounds with a size 52 pant a little over a year ago is now under 250 and wearing a size 38 pant and I’ve taken up running. It is more than that, however, as I am training to run my first 5K race in September and what I hope will be my first 10K race in October. I never imagined that I would be a runner, yet I find myself enjoying it immensely as I run 3 days a week using a training regimen that allows me to work up to the 5K through a series of intervals of running and walking.

I write all of this in my blog today just to say that it is possible for anyone to do what they have a mind to do if they work at it. I may post more about my journey as I get closer to my first 5K, my second 5K, and my 10K. Other than that, most of my postings will continue to be in my usual realm of politics, social issues, education, religion, and such. Take care.