Jimmy Carter is a man I greatly admire. Here is a wonderful statement by him: http://www.womenspress-slo.org/?p=1144
I've mentioned the book, The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman. Bernie talks about a man who had a "particular impact" on him. Marian Kolodziej was a Catholic Pole "who was taken in one of the first transports to Auschwitz, and he survived there until the end. His number was 432, a low, three digit number that shows how long he was there. He and those first inmates were used to build a lot of the camp." One day, Marian is in line for his bowl of watery soup. The guard bumps the man next to him, and the bowl falls and the soup spills. "This guy was Jewish and weak, starved like all the rest of them." Marian shared his soup with him. Imagine having so little, being nearly starving, and sharing your soup.
"Some time later Marian was caught making maps of the camp to be smuggled out to the Polish resistance. He was sentenced to be taken out and shot at the Execution Wall. The Nazis however were known for their bureaucratic efficiency; the paperwork had to be properly signed and stamped before sentences were carried out. It turned out that the Jewish inmate with whom Marian had shared his soup worked as a filing clerk in that office, and when he saw the paperwork authorizing Marian's death sentence awaiting signature, he simply slid it under the stack." He kept doing that until he found the death certificate of someone who'd died, and he arranged the paperwork to give Marian the dead man's name and so Marian escaped being shot. He also kept the name of Marian until his death.
Marian didn't tell anyone for fifty years that he had been at Auschwitz. Then, he had a stroke and began to draw. He put the sketches together into murals. "They now cover the immense cellar walls of a large Franciscan monastery just outside Oswiecim, the site of the camps." "The entire exhibit, which is huge, is called The Labyrinth. When you walk through it, it feels like you're walking through old camp barracks inhabited by camp inmates surrounded by terror and suffering."
We bear witness.
The point Bernie makes is that Marian had no anger. "He had no anger at anybody."
Jeff asks why he had no anger, and Bernie answers.
"Because he bore witness to the whole thing, including to the Nazi parts in him. He acknowledged that all of that was him, the murderous guards, the sadistic kapos - they were all parts of him and of all of us. At some point you have to decide whether you will love humanity or hate it, and he chose to love humanity." His ashes are scattered at Birkenau. His dying words were, "Where there's love, there's no death."
"Where there's love, there's no death." I believe that is what we celebrate today, the triumph of love over death. Love, the bond that lifts over and over again.