Tuesday, 21 April 2009


i've had a pretty amazing day. aside from the mundane stuff of work, and getting one of the kids to the dentist, i went to a couple of inspiring events.

the first was a holocaust commemoration at the university of waikato. this came about as a result of a thesis published at the university which had elements of holocaust denial. after a pretty difficult period, the university ended up issuing an apology, and in return, the jewish community gifted the university a tree with a little memorial plaque, and a bench.

this was the scene of the commemoration to which i was invited as a member of the waikato interfaith council. i have to say that it was a difficult one to attend, cos i wasn't sure how i would be received. not to say that i expected any kind of hostility, but i thought that it would be uncomfortable. luckily, i knew several people from the jewish community who were there, and that made things easier.

it was certainly an experience, but i can't find quite the descriptor to say how i felt about it. i guess because my own feelings were pretty complex. i felt a lot of sympathy for the history that was recited and the pain suffered by those who lived at the time and their families who continue to remember them. and i felt the importance of continuing to remember that history, of keeping it alive and relevant because it does affect so many and because we all have so much to learn from it.

on the other hand, there were bits of the telling that i felt uncomfortable with, particularly the bits that strayed beyond the boundaries of europe. there wasn't very much of that, and i kept reminding myself what i was there for. i was there to share in something, to listen and to learn, to offer support and friendship, and i did that in the best way i could and sometimes staying silent is the best gift you can give.

while they were sharing their pain, which was considerable, i wanted also to share the pain of other peoples. i wanted to explain that i understood some of what they experienced, because the world is a pretty hostile place, and that hostility manifests itself in many ways. but i knew that this was not my time or place to share, that it wasn't appropriate in any way, so i left unsaid what should have been left unsaid.

and yet was left unsaid should be said in some other time or place. that sharing of another pain should happen, but where and how? how to bring people together, and create an atmosphere where they are willing and able to listen, and to be silent when silence is what is required? that is a challenge way beyond me right now.

in any case, i'm glad i went and i hope it did some good. there was an opportunity to speak, so i said a couple of sentences about the importance of teaspoons; the importance of making an effort, no matter how small it seems. it seemed appropriate.

later in the evening, after a parents' meeting for the religious class my children attend, i attended the AGM for the waikato interfaith. that was another kind of awesome, with a speech from the woman who runs the refugee settlement services in hamilton. i'll have to write about that tomorrow, because it's late and i really need a rest.

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