Saturday, 27 January is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
This day is significant not only because of what happened in the Third Reich but, unfortunately, because similar genocides and massacres on ethnic and religious bases have happened many times in the past and continue to happen all over the world. It doesn't matter which ethnic group or religious group is involved, the tragedy and the inhumanity still are highly significant and still are completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, there are too many examples to mention them individually.
We thus see International Holocaust Remembrance Day not only as a time to remember the one event but to remember all of the genocides of the past and to contemplate those that will happen in the future, and to reaffirm our obligation and commitment to prevent them and to treat the victims.
There are many causes. At the base of this is seeing people as objects and not as human beings. Thus, people are seen as "dangerous" and threatening, and there is a loss of empathy with them and compassion for them. They are seen as "the other", not as people who have feelings and who have suffered. Politicians, bolstered by the media, broadcast these images and brainwash the general population so that genocide becomes possible. We have seen this in all too many instances, including here in the Balkans, in Rwanda, and in the Third Reich. There is exploitation of previous untreated traumas and negative narratives. There is exploitation of people's frustration with their lives and with their economic states. There is scapegoating. All of these feelings go deep and are relatively easy to exploit.
The solutions are well known but are not popular. The psychological traumas MUST be treated at the individual, family, location, regional, national, and planetary levels as quickly as possible, even if this is many years – or generations – after they occur. This treatment must not be with drugs, but through talk. Again, empathy and compassion are essential parts of the treatment. People must be empowered to control their own lives. Instead of dividing people, politicians must be encouraged to bring people together. Patriotism and nationalism must be seen for the mental illnesses that they are.
This will take, as it always has taken, people of good will and good conscience to have courage and to stand up for what they believe in and to take action. We have no illusions that this will happen immediately, but we still call upon people to do it. None of what we are saying here is new. However, we must repeat this until it actually happens.