Holocaust – memory and redemption

Image: Slava Mkrvsky
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By LUIZ ROBERTO ALVES*

Being against the genocide of a people or the project of perpetrating an ethnic-cultural holocaust must border on the absolute within the most subtle tissues of the body

Although it is not possible for sapiens to build and maintain thoughts and actions of an absolute nature, since their incompleteness and their educational process move in the provisional and in the possible, the genocide of a people or the project of perpetrating the ethnic-cultural holocaust must border on the absolute within the most subtle tissues of the body. In this extreme place, the phenomenon thought and felt would grow and deeply sharpen the conscience of the being to the point of becoming aware of all the evils of the human scale, even those mistakenly understood as simple, often forgotten and made invisible in everyday life.

The Jewish holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s instills an awareness that goes beyond unfinished business and poor education. Faced with it, whether as a witness, or as a reader and listener, the human being could no longer make use of guesses, stereotypes, frivolous concepts and vulgar comparisons, increasing in contemporary times. It was, in that period, a racist plot against the distinction and diversity of the human that, however, found a discursive and programmatic incarnation against the Jewish people. All narratives about the plot, linguistic or visual, will fall short of the horror experienced, because they cannot be the horror.

Probably this historical and anthropological encounter in the almost absolute seclusion of sapiens, proposed in the first paragraph, a place where tragedy and love also prevail, would require something that exceeds the present added value of language: the silence. In it, the many other attempts at genocide, in which no one was respected, including the decanted old people and the sublime children, would be passed on in the form of films of historical memory. The everyday life of diffuse violence, slavery, abuse, punishment, the horrible pleasure of the death of others would be seen. And the insinuations, the denials, the justifying lies and the physical and symbolic prey would be felt. Finally, it would be realized in the enlightened mind that that phenomenon was real, lived and horrified at every step and every day.

The memory lived in an instant of silence could redeem the sapiens from comparisons, precisely because they deny parts or even the whole of that program of death against human differentiations channeled against a people in essence and other social groups as a result. The holocaust is incomparable, as the fall of its symbol will leave few arguments against an immensity of evils committed every day. Only a thought that reaches the limit and is startled by horror can account for the greater good, the common good that is realized as the right of all people starting from life itself.

Although not comparable, the thought-feeling drawn from the holocaust transcends and can help save the biosphere in times of destruction. It would help to understand a profound relationship between a sapiens and an Amazonian rubber tree or chestnut tree caught in an embrace of bodies. Most likely, considering interviews and conversations with people from the Amazon, the desire that is born there projects the hope of the eternal tree, the tree forever, fruitful and standing. Now, to the extent that countless folklore stories have already shown us that the tree is the connecting element between heaven and earth, the value of the ecological-environmental gesture grows. In Brazil, there are still many species of trees to guarantee this transcendence… standing. And we stand with them.

A diverse people, full of distinctions of all kinds, multifaceted and multiethnic, like the Brazilians, would have to be on the front line against comparisons, guesses and stereotypes derived from the misunderstanding of the holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis. But lately he walks on another line, the bipolar one, full of counters betting on evil and copying and transcribing recipes for vilification, denial of rights and values, in short, entrenched prejudices, with the due support of mediocre education; rather, of non-education. Mentioning them here would make the speeches go haywire, as that silence next to the almost-absolute is still not given to many people, albeit indispensable.

That's why Yad vaShem, on the beautiful Jerusalem hill, is silent. It is the place of memory, research and denunciation of the holocaust, attempts at holocaust and all genocidal derivations. Even bureaucratic work and debate are restrained. If silence can be associated with death, its creative assumption becomes beauty and redemption, a fruitful path for learning among humans. But the world will not go to Yad vaShem. We, who were, also have no right to understand ourselves more capable of enjoying that redeeming silence. However, it is up to us to denounce governments and governances, in all instances and responsibilities of power, incapable or uninterested in the best education, which would open up to people, from an early age, inside and outside schools, the right to know, see and feel what in fact it is a deliberate systematic killing program aimed at the last of the living of a people. Education made up of gossip and imposed “contents” cannot really reach a good place. Probably come to nothing.

This broken, broken and intermittent education, a kind of memory eraser, cannot provide youth with scientific discourses, creative silences and moving acts of ethics and aesthetics.

But that doesn't have to be our destiny. The biosphere burns, but we live and act. The education capable of making the holocaust understood will be the value to guarantee the new aspects of the human condition. We are possibility.

* Luiz Roberto Alves is a senior professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP.

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