'Auschwitz Dancing' video: love or fear... a choice we make, every moment.

Do you believe in the possibility of peace on Earth?

I do...

This article was inspired by a video sent to me by a friend. That video is at the end of this piece, and if you haven’t already seen it, great! I ask you to read first, and watch later. Then, come back and leave a comment expressing what you felt about the video.
If you have seen the video, great! If you liked it, you’ll get what I have to say. If you didn’t – I ask you to read first, then watch the video again, and see if you still feel the same way...

I don’t only believe that it’s possible: I believe that it’s our purpose here, as human beings, to create peace. With our capacity for compassion, understanding, and intelligence we certainly have the potential to be the guardians of this beautiful Garden, our Mother, the Earth.
I think that that conviction is probably what caused my reaction to this video of Adolek Kohn, an 89-year-old Auschwitz survivor, dancing with his daughter and grandchildren at the concentration camps where almost all of his family were ‘exterminated’ 65 years ago. The first time I watched it I thought it was hilarious and uplifting. The second time, my wife and I both cried like babies.
Many people have, I think rather predictably, attacked the video. I don’t judge those people: on the contrary, I fully understand their reactions: we are conditioned to see things as being black and white; good and bad; yes and no, in this society. Why? Because our society is head-based. I’ve written about that in this article on ego, so I won’t go into it again here.
I don’t judge those people, because I know very well how hard it is to escape that conditioning, which tells us we must react in a certain way, to certain things. Like, for example: reacting with shock and horror and respect to the Holocaust, and Auschwitz, and death.
But you know what? That conditioning is what enables Holocausts to happen in the first place! It’s too easy to react to this video in the old, conditioned way… to say:
“Oh, Holocaust. We should be very respectful and quiet and somber…because, you know, that was BAD”
What good does that do? What good does a negative reaction EVER do?
Some people might say that being respectful, and somber, and quiet isn’t a bad or negative thing really. I would answer that we’ve been doing that for a long time, and still there are holocausts happening in the world.
I’ve never visited any of the concentration camps, but I’ve heard it said that there is no birdsong there. As if the weight and darkness of what happened silences any beautiful expression. It’s a somber, quiet, respect-filled place, and the energy of the holocaust remains.
Watching that video was a breath of fresh air. People laughing, dancing, singing, having fun, and enjoying life. I couldn’t help thinking: “Hitler must be turning in his grave”!
If he is turning in his grave, I bet the people who died in those camps are dancing for joy in theirs!
To transform the energy of hate, we have to let go of the energy that created it. Collectively.
As Einstein said: “you cannot solve a problem, by using the same consciousness that created it”.
In other words, being heavy, and dark, and somber isn’t going to change anything. It isn’t going to make the world a better place.
I believe that dancing, and celebration, and laughter will.
In any case, to the people who attack this video, I say this:
Adolek Kohn was there 65 years ago. He is still here.
If that dear old man, who went through what he did, wants to dance and laugh with his grandchildren in that place, I salute him. What courage it must have taken, to come full circle and return there without hate.
I consider it one of the greatest honors of my life to have seen him doing that, and I thank his family, from the bottom of my heart, for making this video:


Unknown said...

Via Elephant Journal:
Bree says:
August 12, 2010 at 08:34 (Edit)
i watched it and cried. Not because I was sad but because I could not imagine the amount of love and life that man has coursing with in himself. Here I sit with a simple life and I can not bring myself to smile some days- I think this man will be an inspiration to me. Two of my grandparents where placed in camps during WWII (One for hiding Jews and the other for simply being a Hungarian) and both survived. I never knew them that well, but I wonder if they would have done the same thing as this man did.

Unknown said...

Via Ele Journal:
K Sequoia says:
August 12, 2010 at 09:48 (Edit)
Ben, I agree – and if it can shift into something positive, which is that it teaches compassion and even joy (?!)… then all those people will not have died in vain. I'm still crying from watching that. Looking at his grandkids, and how each of them are survivors as well, given the opportunity for life because he is so full of it.

What an awesome way to start the day – with hope for my human kin. Thank you!

BLessings deep and wide,
Kim @redhandferi

Unknown said...

Ele Journal:
Front Row Denizen says:
August 12, 2010 at 09:28 (Edit)
It's hard for me as the son of a father hidden with a Catholic family while 54 members of his family were killed to see how those deaths, let alone the genocide of 2/3 of Europe's Jewish population, now "achieve[s] something positive" because people are inspired by a video of a survivor who has found joy and peace. More power to him! And I know you mean well, and mean no disrespect of course, and I take no offense … but when you reduce the Holocaust to something that turns out to now be "positive" because we can get an inspirational jolt from a video at Aushwitz, it seems a bit solipsistic. The idea that Hitler is now turning in his grave because of this video and now millions of Jews, Roma, gays and others are now dancing in their grave because of that … Yeah, as Frankl posits in logotherapy, finding meaning is key … but this isn't meaning, this is just banal. The video is inspiring to me; the article and comments, disappointing.

Unknown said...

Eric says:
August 12, 2010 at 10:41 (Edit)
I went to Dachau, and I cried…there is something heavy & palpable~just like at Gettysburg or Wounded Knee.
I've met German-Americans who came here after WWII, warm, loving people–yet they still blame the Jews for Germany's post WWI depression, say that Hitler was a "great man" and that there was no Holocaust (or one even said, 'maybe a million, but not 6 million' — like that was somehow okay?) or they bring up America & Dresden and Hiroshima..

::what have we really learned?::

Perhaps we also need videos of survivors of Stalin's camps, survivors of the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, survivors from Bosnia, and Rwanda…..RIGHT NOW in the Congo, and those in the inner cities of our urban centers surviving systemic poverty and disease…. ::what have we really learned?::

but for this moment, I bow to Adolek Kohn and all survivors of these atrocities: L'Chaim!!!!
Thanks Ben!!

Unknown said...

Jean says:
August 12, 2010 at 12:13 (Edit)
What an amazing way for Adolek Kohn to express what is at the heart of surviving! By dancing at Auschwitz he is not demeaning the seriousness of the Holocaust, but rejoicing in the present-and isn't that what surviving is all about? Living in the now? Adolek is living this moment to its fullest and not living in the shadow of what was…I think that should speak volumes to all of us. What an amazing lesson we could all learn from this. I'm willing to bet his family that died there would be thrilled to see him living life with joy and overcoming the fear and hatred he must have felt at one time. He is an inspiration! Thank you for posting this Ben!

Unknown said...

Russell Ayers says:
August 13, 2010 at 20:49
Is it really enough to only honor the past, to appreciate those in the present who have Overcome horror and atrocity without seeing such recollections and emergent hope as a reflecting mirror of the atrocities and holocausts that are present in the life and death struggle of so many in so many places THIS VERY MINUTE….aren't there some ironies present lurking in the shadows of this lovely video? So what do we do now?

Ben Ralston says:
August 15, 2010 at 12:46 (Edit)
“Is it really enough to only honor the past”


“So what do we do now?”


Post a Comment