From Nelson Mandela’s Jail cell to Anne Frank’s Bedroom …

During this past week, I had the honor and responsibility to visit two incredibly significant UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Robben Island off of Cape Town, South Africa and then the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island

One of the canals beside the Anne Frank Huis

The Poison:

While the scale of atrocities is incomparable, I couldn’t help but draw parallels I thought worth sharing between the two.

  • Within Nazism,  non-Aryans were considered non-humans.  I’m Jewish.  My dogs would have gotten better treatment than I would have in their regime.
  • Within Apartheid non-whites were considered sub-species.  I have friends who are not Caucasian.  Same deal.
  • Benjamin, our tour guide on Robben Island and a former political prisoner, shared that he’s had people come on the tour who deny that this maltreatment really happened – that the stories are drawn from friction.  Benjamin, now around 70, is able to personally debunk that claim – but not for long.
  • Stephen Spielberg and others have worked very very hard to capture survivors’ 1st person stories so that there can be accounts to debunk the claims that many – including the Iranian President – make that the Holocaust was fictional.

Obviously – there’s internment, psychological debasement and other tortures that they had in common as well.

And, of course, the objectives were incredibly different – where the Nazis wanted to eradicate non-aryans vs. the government in the Apartheid era wanting to maintain control – but both were horrific and situations from which we should say and act on the statement: “Never Again”.

The antidote:

“Every human life has equal value”

–          Bill Gates

Almost every day, I drive past that phrase – sometimes twice – because I commute past the Gates Foundation on my way to work.  Imagine if every student everywhere learned that as one of their core principles?  Imagine if every legislator and member of royalty believed that to be true and acted on that belief?  How would the world be different?

What would and could you do to bring that phrase to life?

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