Like many of you, I sat in front of my television on the evening of Friday, November 13, 2015 and watched in horror as news of the terrorist attacks in Paris flooded the airways. "Not again," I thought to myself. My heart ached for people whom I had never met and for a city and country thousands of miles away. While I will never understood the root of such deep hate, I fear that the regularity of these events - shootings, bombings and stabbings of Jews, Christians, children and others - are slowly desensitizing us all. And what happens then? What happens when those of us who feel the pain of these events and who struggle to comprehend the barbaric actions of terrorists become numb to it all? What happens when care and concern for ALL of humankind - regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, and country of origin or socioeconomic status - fades to black? For me, the loss of compassion, empathy and love is the loss of humanity. When we lose our humanity we lose it all.
My guess is that anyone reading this agrees in part with the statements above. If my assumption is accurate, it begs a much more important question. What are WE going to do about it? The operative word is WE. Each of us individually has an obligation to act because all of us collectively own our future. We must speak up and we must stand up. We must act. Hope and prayer will not fix this. Edicts from on high will not fix this. The solution starts with one person standing tall and rejecting all forms of hatred, and bigotry. It then takes the rest of us to make one simple decision. Are we going to be part of the problem or are we going to be part of the solution? Ironically, when it comes to loving our neighbors as ourselves, we become part of the solution simply by choosing not to be part of the problem.
I am proud to be associated with USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education, because we are dedicated to overcoming prejudice, intolerance and hatred and the pain and suffering it causes. We are dedicated to educating people around the globe - using 53,000 eyewitness video testimonies to the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, Rwandan Genocide, Nanjing Massacre and other atrocities. Through the use of testimony in education and research USC Shoah Foundation is dedicated to changing peoples' hearts as well as their minds and we are relentlessly focused on the obligation that each of us through our individual and collective actions can truly change the world.
The next time you watch a news headline about some calamity in the world and you wonder what you can do to help, I hope you will reflect on the thoughts above. Your actions matter. Your voice has power. Your leadership matters.
Join me this #GivingTuesday and support the power of testimony.