Sunday, 22 February 2009

Sophie Scholl

I have a childhood memory of going to the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday and of not understanding or feeling the symbolism of the event. On the local TV in the evening some six decades later, a headline was "X rated service," and latter the explanation was that a parish advised parents not to bring children to the service because images would be shown from Mel Gibson's Passion, and the church wanted parishioners to understand and feel the reality of physical suffering and mental torment which one human being voluntarily subjected themselves to two thousands years ago on behalf of others. This is an act which many had done before and countless others since, and where few have been recorded.

One of my heroes is Sophie Scholl, a remarkable young German girl, who with her brother Hans, produced and circulated literature on truth and liberty for all in Munich as part of a resistance group against the Nazi regime called the White Rose. They were arrested in 1943 for distributing flyers around the University and at her trial, (and which fortunately, someone who was part of the event subsequently recorded for us), she defiantly continued her protest against the system. She was condemned to death, allowed to see her parents and her brother, and faced her execution with a calmness which so amazed her jailers that what happened was subsequently reported by one of them, so that her story could subsequently be shared.

I have previously mentioned that as a boy I read the official reports of the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials of those involved with Belsen and Auschwitz and how much I was moved and the extent to which it led to laying down one cold Monday morning in the middle of a road before a line of bemused policemen, and that because some of us repeated the event two weeks later we decided to spend six months in prison rather than agree to effectively admit that we were wrong and the authorities were right. When I think of the bravery which Sophie and her companions showed in going against the Nazi regime midway during the Second World War knowing what would happen if they were caught, I am ashamed.

She was a direct descendent of the event which many still witness two thousand years later. To me it is irrelevant if Jesus of Nazareth was just a remarkable man who subsequent has had a good press, or was the son of God, conceived of a virgin and who was humanly resurrected after death. What he did that day, as others such as Sophie Scholl has done since, and the list of others is endless, is not just to bear physical torture, mental suffering and death which should be an eternal lesson to all, but they did it as act of solidarity with everyone else who is persecuted and punished for what they believe and feel, and they also forgave those responsible for what was being done to them as a consequence.

Both are reported to have believed that what they were doing was not a final end, but an end to a new beginning. There are those, and again the list is endless, who bear and share in the suffering and death of others, and who do so believing that there will be no resurrection, no tomorrow, or meeting up with those who have been loved and lost. I think of the countless parents who rush back into burning houses in a failed rescue of a child, and of the soldiers from both sides ordered to advance from the cover of their trenches into a hail of bullets and a shower of mortar bombs, time and time and time and time again, and did so, and still do.

There is however one aspect of our witness to the Passion which continues to distress me and I am sure that in this I am not alone. When someone is locked in such pain whether physical or mental and can see only an ending as resolution what can one say to encourage them to continue to bear it?

Can one say that politicians will give priority to tackling the starvation and the sickness which kills so many children each and every second?

Can one say that politicians, international corporations and power group interests, will take the appropriate action to protect the planet and all its species, and habitations, from the effects of human made pollution, misuse and neglect?

Can one say that governments and churches and economic interests will unite and end disputes and confrontations which result in blood shedding?

Can I say that we will all join in giving priority to protecting children from abuse and enable them to develop their innate and acquired spiritual, mental, physical and emotional abilities to their maximum potential?

Can I say that we will all take appropriate action to protect and further the interests of the vulnerable and the dependent, especially those who reach the limits of old age?

No I think I cannot say any of that, so what can I say?

The truth is I do not know, I am unsure, and what I think I know and what I believe I can say sounds in my head so inadequate that I hesitate to share.

"I understand," how pathetic is that for how can anyone understand?

"I care," to be met with, "Great, I hope that makes you feel better than it does me."

"I want to help," when you know you cannot reach.

"I have suffered too and come through." "Well a'int you the lucky one."

I could try a little humour, I have always said we can only learn from our own mistakes and what if you are wrong and I am right you will not have the chance to learn.

Nope I don't believe any of these will do.

Is there anything else, however desperate in this moment of helplessness?

Help me, I need you and others will.

Hi ColinThank you for sharing this.I hope you also have room for hope dreams and optimism in your mind.I find that when life gets too dark, serious and even depressing, being creative is a way to lift myself up from it all and feel happy again.Hugs from Artoony Posted by Artoony on 20:04 - 20:15

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