Saturday, September 19, 2015

#260: Eva Kor Visits Boise

According to her foundation's website, Eva Kor is "a survivor of the Holocaust, forgiveness advocate, and public speaker." And she came to Boise to receive the Anne Frank Human Rights Award from the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights. She was the keynote speaker at the Center's fundraiser last night.

You know how I heard about it? Because I had a silent disco birthday party!!

I was at Boise Fry Company buying thank you gift certificates for those that helped at my party, and there was a postcard there advertising this woman who survived the Holocaust, had begun the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and made a movie called Forgiving Dr. Mengele about using forgiveness as a way of self-healing.

I had to go. Holocaust survivors will not be around forever, and it is important to hear them while we have them. No one jumped at the chance to go with me (in fairness, it was kind of expensive), so I went by myself. I was nervous to go alone. In my mind I entertained a small fear that an event that cost so much, that was just a straight fundraiser, would be full of people so different than me I wouldn't know how to behave and would obviously stick out.

This is Boise. Of course that didn't happen.

I walked in and within about 3 minutes found people I know.

That's her sitting to the left of the orange podium.
Her story is incredible, and I won't even try to retell it here—please watch the movie or read one of her books or go hear her speak. Some of what I got from going:

  • Going alone was scary, but absolutely rewarding. I ended sitting with and talking to two people that I have known for a long time but not very well. Getting to know them was a great pleasure.
  • Eva said, "Don't ever give up. When you give up, nothing happens." It's not the 'don't give up' that got me, it's that nothing happens when we give up. Nothing. Happens. Nothing. I hadn't put words to it like that. This really hit me hard: if I want my world to be different, I am the one that has to do something about it. Waiting around for someone else to save me will get me nowhere. 
  • The power of the human will is...incredible? Maybe the most powerful force we have? I don't have the words but she said that in Auschwitz "hope was in short supply" and once someone had given up you could read it on their face. She decided when she got there that she and her sister were going to survive, and they did. 
  • She said that dying was easy in Auschwitz, it was living that was hard. I can't add to that. True in everyday life, too. 
  • Anyone can be forgiven. Really, anyone? Yes. If she can forgive Dr. Mengele and the Nazi's for what they did to her and her family, I can surely find it in myself to forgive the perpetrators in my own life. 
  • This terrible thing happened to her when she was 10ish, and it changed her life forever. Don't most of us have something awful that happened to us when we were young? That in itself was a revelation. I am not alone. The difference is that this woman has let go and some of us hold on, waiting for the other person/party to come around or see the light or apologize to us. It's not going to happen. I have a choice: stay angry and close that part of myself off from life or forgive and get on with it. Look at the amazing things she has done for good once she let go of her anger. 
I am going to focus my energy today on living.
P.S. I won the Boise Co-op package in the raffle!How good life is when I put in the effort to live!

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