As part of my visit to Amsterdam – I went to the Anne Frank Huis today. I remember reading the book as a schoolgirl, and knew that I couldn’t possibly come to the city without visiting the house where Anne wrote her diary.
It had such an impact on me when I was young. I am not Jewish – so I can’t understand that kind of persecution, but something about the way she examined her life in the context of knowing how very precious each moment might be resonated down to my core.
The house itself was so much less than what I expected – especially in terms of light and space. I can respect Otto Frank’s decision to leave it empty, as it was when he came home. But that emptiness meant that the emotional impact of the house on me was so much more than I ever thought it could be. The lives of eight people who lived in fear, then were betrayed, and most of them lost were keenly obvious in the barren small rooms. Anne’s diary made all of those people real for millions of readers. The photo of Otto Frank standing in an empty attic is too poignant for expression – the art of the camera captures the grief and the angst far more powerfully than words
At the end of the tour – there is an exhibit that tells stories of other types of persecution: homophobia, race issues, and so many more. It is not about just religious persecution – it is a stand to fight against all types of hate crimes and prejudice. It made me recall some current events: a young African American boy in a hoodie, a woman in a hijab, and too many others to mention. I am glad that this exhibit asks the questions – and tries in its own way to stop the discrimination.
It made me glad that I will be going to #TEDxMaastricht – where we look to the future of health, the importance of patients as partners, and protecting the dignity of the human spirit. It mad me grateful for people like Salmaan Sana, who gave a talk today and at TEDxMaastricht last year about #Compassion4care. It is so important to teach compassion to our future and current healthcare providers – and give them tools to overcome old prejudices and hidden curricula.
The most acute awareness was that it is not just doctors and nurses who need these lessons – we need to teach the next generation how to have compassion.
When my daughter was very little, there was a song that we sang together that was one of her favorite lullabies. I now sing it to my grandson – and he smiles at me because it is one of his songs. It may not change the entire world, but as the little guy starts to sing the words – I have faith they will imprinted on his heart.
What Color is God’s Skin
Here are the lyrics – although in my daughter’s case – we changed “my little son” for my little one, and said tell me “Mommy” what color is God’s skin – hey single mother’s prerogative ;)
What Color is god’s skin? (Colwell Brothers)
“Good Night” I said to my little son
So tired out when the day was done
Then he said, as I tucked him in
“Tell me, Daddy- What Color is God’s Skin?”
What color is God’s skin? What color is God’s Skin”
I said it’s black, brown, it’s yellow… it is red, it is white
Every man’s the same in the good Lord’s sight.
He looked at me with his shining eyes
And then I knew I could tell know lies
He asked “Daddy, why do the different races fight
If we’re the same in the good Lord’s sight?”
“Son, that’s part of our suffering past
But the whole human race is learning at last
The thing we missed on the road we trod
Is walking as the daughters and the sons of God”.
(This verse was deleted in 1970 to be more universal, but I include it here for authenticity)
These words to America a man once hurled
God’s last chance to make a world
The different races are meant to be
Our strength and glory from sea to sea.
Just a postscript. I have friends from many religions: Christians of all flavors, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, some atheists, several agnostics, and even a wiccan or two ;) The song is not really about any deity, it is about tolerance and compassion for your fellow human beings.
So at the end of the day, I sat by the multi-colored flowers of the Bloemenmarket and was hopeful for the future.