Thursday, May 11, 2017

Democracy does not Guarantee Good Outcomes

Many of the things I hear in the news these days remind me of a very informative book I read -- Perpetrators Victims Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe 1933-1945 by Raul Hilberg. I highly recommend this book for anyone concerned about the current course of our nation. Germany was a democracy with a 94% Christian population. Haliberg divides the German population into three distinct groups – perpetrators, victims and bystanders. Below are a few points I want to share with you about what happened in that place during that period. (Page numbers are in parenthesis and highlights have been added.)

(1) (The Holocaust) was an event that was experienced by a variety of perpetrators, a multitude of victims, and a host of bystanders. These three groups were distinct from one another and they did not dissolve in their lifetime. Each saw what had happened from its own, special perspective, and each harbored a separate set of attitudes and reactions. (p. ix)

(2) Perpetrators were the people who played a specific role in the formulation or implementation of anti-Jewish measures. In most cases, a participant understood his function, and he ascribed it to his position and duties. What he did was impersonal. He had been empowered or instructed to carry out his mission. (p. ix)

(3) No one man and no one organization was solely responsible for the destruction of the Jews. No single budget was allocated for this purpose. The work was diffused in a widespread bureaucracy, and each man could fee that his contribution was a small part of an immense undertaking. (p. ix)

(4) An administrator, clerk, or uninformed guard never referred to himself as a perpetrator. He realized, however, that the process of destruction was deliberate, and that once he had stepped into this maelstrom, his deed would be indelible. In this sense, he would always be what he had been, even if he remained reticent or silent about what he had done. (p. ix)

(5) The first and foremost perpetrator was Adolf Hitler himself. He was the supreme architect of the operation; without him it would have been inconceivable. (p. ix)

(6) Hitler was always in the limelight, but most of the labor was carried out in the shadows by a vast establishment of familiar functionaries and ascending newcomers. In this conglomeration, some men displayed eagerness, while others had doubts. Within the leadership there were many professionals, including ubiquitous lawyers and indispensable physicians. (p. ix)

(7) Unlike the perpetrators, the victims were perpetually exposed. They were identifiable and countable at every turn. (p. x)

(8) To be defined as Jews, they only had to have had Jewish parents or grandparents. Discriminatory laws and regulations dealt in great detail with such problems as partners in mixed marriages, individuals with mixed parentage, and enterprises with mixed ownership. With each successive step, the gulf became wider. The Jews were marked with a star, and their contacts with non-Jews were minimized, formalized, or prohibited. (p. x)

(9) Segregated in houses, ghettos, or labor camps, they were spatially isolated and concentrated. Beyond these barriers, the war cut off continental European Jewry from Jewish communities and Allied governments in the outside world. (p. x)

(10) The Jewish victims had leaders, and these individuals, occupying positions in hundreds of Jewish councils, have attracted much attention. The victims as a whole, however, have remained an amorphous mass. (p. x)

(11) Millions of Jews suffered a common fate in front of pre-dug graves or in the hermetically sealed gas chambers. The death of these Jews has become their most important attribute. They are remembered mainly for what happened to them all, and for this reason there has been some inhibition about segmenting them, systematically into component categories. (p. x)

(12) Most contemporaries of the Jewish catastrophe were neither perpetrators nor victims. Many people, however, saw or heard something of the event. Those of them who lived in Adolf Hitler’s Europe would have described themselves, with few exceptions, as bystanders. They were not “involved,” not willing to hurt the victims and not wishing to be hurt by the perpetrators. (p. xi)

(13) Much was determined by the character of the individual, particularly if it was an unusual or extraordinary character. (p. xi)

(14) Even if one looked away, asked no questions, and refrained from talk in public, a dull awareness remained. The disappearance of the Jews, or the appearance of their property, was a signal of what was happening. (p. 195)

Powerful political leaders only carry out their agendas through the actions of some and inactions of others. Hitler did not personally round up people, place them on railroad cars, determine who would go to the gas chambers or be shot, carry out the administrative duties, file the papers, write the checks, sweep the floors, etc.

I would like to add another group to the three identified by Haliberg – Protectors. It is essential for citizens at all levels of a democratic society to be vigilant and aware of how their roles affect other human lives. Please share this information and engage in discussions about the points above. Shalom!

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Parenting Lessons from the First Murder of the Bible

There is no question about who committed the murder – Cain murdered Abel! But when we look at the entire context of the story, which began in Genesis 1:1, it raises some interesting questions like these -- Did Cain understand the potential consequences of his actions? Was it possible for Cain to even understand what murder was? Keep in mind no human had witnessed or experienced at this point in the text. This was a first in human history. Read complete article at --

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Is your belief system large enough?

Jim Myers created this guideline in the late 1980s as a guide for people to use in his Bible studies when disagreements arose over conflicting beliefs. It is now the Primary Guideline of the Biblical Heritage Center and the TOV Center. If you agree please share it.