This Tuesday we had a speaker at Anthem Author's Club. We choose speakers who have published their work(s) and who share not only their book's content, but also, and of utmost interest to us, their journey to publishing, the pitfalls, and the absolute must's.
Our speaker yesterday was Stephen Nasser who wrote, MY BROTHER'S VOICE. Mr. Nasser's content far outweighed his publishing journey. My only regret in going to hear him was that I didn't take a package of kleenex. He was thirteen years old when he and his brother, Andres, were taken from their home in Hungary to a Nazi concentration camp. For a brief time they were in Auschweitz.
He was so inspiring as he told of his determination not to let the Nazi'a have his mind. They had complete control over his body, but reminescent of Viktor Frankyl's MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING, he knew they could not control his mind.
He expressed the happiness now which he experiences each day that he wakes up in freedom in America. It was General Patton who freed him on April 30th, l945 (which interestingly enough was the same day that Hitler committed suicide).
He encouraged all of us to write; to open our hearts and leave our legacy, leave our family an heirloom of our lives, our thoughts, our feelings. He encouraged us never to give up, but to persevere in our efforts, and he shared his perseverence in writing while he was in the work camp where he was able to confiscate thick paper from cement bags and he was able to get pencils from a kind guard who was not a Nazi.
When he left the camp he only weighed 72 lbs.(down from 138 lbs.), and he had a thick diary of their experiences, but it was lost in transit in a rail car where he had passed out from being pinned down by bodies of the dead. When Patton's men pulled out the bodies and discovered he had a pulse, he was taken for medical care. No one thought to look for his make shift diary, but he was able to write down the major events at a later time.
I won't write all of the details of the notes I took, but I do want to share some significant messages he gave. He said that "Nazis" exist today. He said we have not learned the lessons of history, that the holocaust is happening in countries right now. He lived through it and he warned us that it's happening all over again.
He said in Iran they have caricatures circulating displaying Jewish people killing babies, drinking the blood and making kosher food of it. I know this is as disgusting and sad for you to read as it is for me to write, but the truth is, nothing can hurt us more than what we don't know. He said their goal is to kill us if we won't follow their religions.
Then he spoke of his journey of ridding himself of hate and learning to love ALL people. He said the Germans are not to blame for the atrocities of the holocaust, but the Nazi's and the SS are. There were many who were Nazi's, not just Germans, and there were many who died, not just Jews. (I know this is true. When Roy and I were in Dachau, Germany at the concentrations camp,I was surprised at the various monuments built to honor the many who were murdered who were of other religions.)
Mr. Nasser spoke of the gift of God that life is. Just being able to be a human being is a gift. We are all God's children. His tearful emphasis was that it's so much easier to love than to hate, and he wants that to be his message to the world.
He told how in his own mind he became a "part-time "prisoner. Before falling asleep at night, he would recall his pleasant memories of home and his family, and then when he'd sleep he would dream of them. He chose to have his dreams be his reality and to have his waking hours be the nightmare he would leave behind him at night. At that time "anger" kept him alive.
He said that one day in camp, after they had been there about ten months, he was eating lunch with his brother who was growing weaker and weaker every day. This particular day his brother said, "My Little Brat, I know how determined you are. I'm about done here. I will not survivie, so we haven't much time. Mother, Father, and other relatives are looking down on us. It's important for you to get used to being on your own. Would you like us (meaning the dead family) to be miserable or happy? You must keep on smiling. You must keep your attitude so we can look down on you and be happy that you are happy."
There was so much more that he shared, but I'll leave you with this portion of his talk. He travels the US giving his story, and he doesn't charge a penny. He does accept donations, but his message is his mission.
As this dear man, now 75 years old, concluded his message, he asked all of us to stand and hold hands with the people next to us. He stepped to the front row and took the hands of the people there, then he began to pray. I was completely dissolved into a puddle as this blessed Jewish man of peace prayed in the name of all those who had suffered, sacrificed, and/or died during the time of the holocaust. He prayed for those today who are away from their families in foreign lands suffering and sacrificing. He prayed for the families. He prayed for peace and concluded with "Never, never, never again." Then he asked all of us to repeat with him, "Never, never, never again." I could only say it in my heart, for I could not speak.
Freedom is a blessing we take for granted because it's all we have ever known. Today I'm especially grateful for freedom and for those who have fought and died throughout all of the wars so that I might have a comfortable life. I'm writing in respectful contemplations of the families left behind whose lives have been changed forever by the loss of their loved one(s). I honor their sacrifices.
If enough of us could have a concentrated consciousness, a collective consiousness pertaining to peace in the world, perhaps it could be a Hundredth Monkey principle and waves of peace and love could be telegraphed around the world. Perhaps!
Think gratitude for peace and love. Pray gratitude for peace and love. Live gratitude for peace and love. Be gratitude for peace and love.