Scottsdale Community College is hosting Genocide Awareness Week 2015 this April 13-18. The week’s theme is “Not on Our Watch.” Speakers will represent many different world areas including a topic I’m still learning: the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide of 1915, where Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians. I am honored to be speaking on Wednesday April 15 at 1:30 and would love to have you join me. The topic is “Poles as Victims and Heroes under Hitler and Stalin.”
Hope begins with Awareness and Education
“Genocide” isn’t a pleasant topic, but the word “Awareness” offers hope. We need heroes today more than ever. The world is full of good, courageous people who stand up for others, or risk their lives for strangers. I truly believe we need to recognize these people, honor their memory, and teach our children that one person, really can make a difference. History does not have to repeat itself. This year’s theme of “Not on Our Watch” embodies that philosophy.
Recognition of Multiple Genocides Spreads Compassion
Sure, everyone has heard of Adolf Hitler. But who knows that even greater genocides were perpetrated by Jozef Stalin, Mao Zedung and King Leopold II of Belgium? If you think of the United States, we remember the Pilgrims every Thanksgiving. Several Native American tribes call it a day of mourning for the genocide of their tribes under European settlers. While the death count of Native Americans is high – who knows how high because they weren’t considered humans worthy of a census. I dream of the day I mention I’m writing about a Catholic Pole in Auschwitz, and someone doesn’t ask me “If he was Catholic, why was he arrested?”
Definition of Genocide
The United Nations defines genocide as: “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part 1 ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
Growing Anti-Semitism in Europe is Concerning
I don’t live in Europe, but watching from across the Atlantic it’s very concerning to see the current rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. I don’t know how to explain hate, outside of money and power. Hate breeds hate. It reminds me of the school playground. Every bully wants to be better than someone and punish those who are weak. Most European countries, like the United States, are facing waves of legal and illegal immigration, which introduces a major cultural stressor.
If you’re in the Phoenix area I hope you’re able to attend even one of the talks. They are free and open to the public. There are so many good speakers and topics lined up, including Mr. Oskar Knoblauch who will share how he survived the Krakow Ghetto. I’m including the link to the conference. Thanks to sponsors, the conference is free, open to the public and offers a full day of educator workshops on Saturday April 18. I also salute Professor John Liffiton, the originator and coordinator of the entire conference for encouraging a growing awareness. Contact information is available through the link below. #GenocideAware,