Something To Work At

Betty - 3055-cc Rotterdam, Netherlands
Entered on July 9, 2008
Age Group: 65+
Themes: humanism, war
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I believe in compassion. In the wonder of all that is – known or unknown, in the healing power of a smile, a kind word, a helping hand.

I believe in the unity of everything, in learning from the so-called contradictions, from our fears, from our capacity to be happy, or even from our unhappiness.

From the day the war started in The Netherlands, on May 10, 1940, a beautiful sunny Spring day, I changed from an 11-year old child into a halfway grown-up. At sunrise I hear a very strange noise outside. I get out of bed and look out from the window: I see a plane on fire….tumbling down. I think “this must mean war”, and go back to bed, until my Father comes in, telling me to get dressed and come downstairs with my pillow and blanket. Everyone in our street is outside, many still in pajamas. Some of our Dutch sholdiers ask politely if they may come through our house and garden to cross into the adjoining park bordering the “Vliet” a canal, to shoot back at the German parachutists. The firing lasts for hours. A bullet hits one of our kitchen windows, causing havock. My Mother has just left the kitched one minute earlier. In the afternoon I am in the garden admiring the pure-white lilac blossomsin full bloom, wondering at such beauty with war all around. How is this possible????? I am today, at age 79, still sad when almost daily confronted with the sorrow from which millions of people all over the world are suffering. What to do? What I have learned from the war years, ended May 5, 1945, when we hated the enemy (the Germans) but later heard of those German soldiers who were human and helpful. When, after the war I had to visit customers in Germany, I found out that they often had no choice and were ashamed of what they were forced to do, I decided to explain to them that we were ALL victims of what was decided “for them” “by them” (the State, the people with power), “the situation”. Not Everyone is a Hero. Now, in 2008, I come to the conclusion that the Germans are mostly kind, helpful, human. It took me at least 60 years to speak about the Rage, the Sadness, whcih had me in its grip when my Grandfather was taken to a concentration camp in Germany and murdered. When the war ended I was 16 years old and full of Idealism about what Peace would bring, but it did not take long to find that the Utopia I had imagined did Not exist. More than being Understanding, full of Sympathy, Helpful, Caring, Loving, Sharing…..I try to be, and know that there are so many people who feel the same way!.

Something to Work At.