Today marks the launch of #BeginsWithMe, a social media campaign led by USC Shoah Foundation that encourages people to share what they will do to learn from the Holocaust and help fight prejudice and intolerance.
As the world prepares to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, it is a fitting time to reflect on the acts of supreme cruelty committed there and elsewhere by German Nazis.
Auschwitz stands as a harsh reminder of the millions of lives lost so needlessly. Yet despite cries after the Holocaust of “never again,” the list of countries that have endured genocidal atrocities continues to grow. Rwanda, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, and Guatemala – not a single continent has been spared the horror of genocide. And it continues happening today in places like Darfur and Syria.
And yet, history has also shown us how one person can make a huge difference. Some have become well known for their acts of bravery and defiance: Oskar Schindler, Nicholas Winton, Raoul Wallenberg, all ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Others will remain unknown; perhaps because their acts of generosity were so small they didn’t realize how important they were: An apple tossed over a fence saved a child from starving. An old sweater offered warmth for a winter. A small lie from a friend saved an entire family.
In fact, survivors of genocide often say simple acts of kindness are remembered and appreciated as much the larger actions.
So we need to harness the power of one. Never think one person can’t make a difference. Never think the fight is too big. One person cannot end genocide, but one person can help create a climate that prevents genocide from starting. To become bogged down by the enormity of it is to miss the point.
#BeginsWithMe aims to create a movement that spreads the message that each one of us has the power to help create a climate that prevents a genocide and other forms of inhumanity that affect all of us.
Through Facebook and Twitter, anyone can be part of #BeginsWithMe in four distinct areas. Experience testimony by watching testimony clips from the Visual History Archive and sharing them with your friends and followers. Give an opinion about which outcomes from studying the Holocaust most resonate with you. Take our challenge to test your own knowledge of the Holocaust. Finally, demonstrate your tolerance and understanding by sharing what you have done to make a difference.
Be sure to include the #BeginsWithMe hashtag in your social media posts to be part of the conversation. The campaign will continue until Feb. 6, 2015, so follow USC Shoah Foundation on Facebook and Twitter for updates and new content throughout the month.