Suffering and death have meaning … of the deepest significance

Even in the depths of suffering, there is still reason to hope for the future. Even if we are in despair today, we can embrace the joys of the past

Suffering and death have meaning … of the deepest significanceRussian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.” It should be no surprise that the writings of Dostoyevsky had a profound influence on Viktor Frankl, the Austrian Jewish psychiatrist, as he faced life in Nazi concentration camps. Dostoyevsky endured horrendous suffering in…

The lessons of Rwanda seem lost on Canadians

We funded, educated and then sheltered the man who gave the Rwandan genocide its intellectual impetus. Will we make the same mistakes in Mali?

The lessons of Rwanda seem lost on CanadiansApril marks the 24th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda. On April 6, 1994, the aircraft carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down above Kigali. The worst genocide since the Holocaust began immediately thereafter. A party of extremists within the majority Hutu population aimed to murder the entire Tutsi minority. Over…

Stepping beyond stereotypes to right wrongs

The key is to focus on acceptable and unacceptable actions, not the ethnicity or gender of the actor

Stepping beyond stereotypes to right wrongsPsychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “There are two races of men in the world, but only these two – the ‘race’ of decent men and the ‘race’ of indecent men. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society.” This is a powerful conclusion from a man who witnessed the very…

Was Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe always a thug?

It’s hard to know for sure, but one can safely say that, once ensconced in power, thuggery came easily to him

Was Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe always a thug?Some years ago, I was having lunch with my favourite aunt when she brought up the topic of Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe’s evolving storyline was troubling her. The Catholic charity she was involved with had adopted Zimbabwe as one its projects and Mugabe had been seen as a good guy. You could even say he was…

Raphael Lemkin: the man who coined the word genocide

Lemkin lobbied tirelessly for the United Nations to adopt a definition of the word genocide

Raphael Lemkin: the man who coined the word genocideI recently asked my Grade 12 students if Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term “genocide”, was a great man. What I got in response from my students was quite thought provoking. Everyone seemed to agree that Lemkin was a noble man with a noble cause. He was a Polish Jew, born in 1900.…

Was the Ukrainian Red Famine genocide or incompetence?

Historians are divided on Josef Stalin’s intent in the Ukraine that resulted in millions of deaths. Anne Applebaum’s new book has revived the dispute

Was the Ukrainian Red Famine genocide or incompetence?Chances are Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine will set the cat among the pigeons with respect to the horrendous Ukrainian hunger of 1932-33. It’s already touched off a rhetorical skirmish between the author and an early reviewer. Applebaum is an American journalist-historian whose Gulag: A History won a 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Russia is a particular specialty of…

Assisted dying and the dark corners of history

We need to learn from the lessons of history when considering assisted dying for those with disabilities – no matter how unsettling that history may be

Assisted dying and the dark corners of historyHistory has a role in the national conversation about medically-assisted death, despite protests to the contrary. A respected physician and scholar recently stepped down as chair of the expert working group appointed to study the issue of advanced directives for medically-assisted death. Named to this position only two weeks earlier by the Council of Canadian…

Irena Sendler’s remarkable courage should inspire us all

As a member of the Polish underground in Warsaw, Sendler saved thousands of Jewish children from the Nazis because she had the courage to follow her convictions

Irena Sendler’s remarkable courage should inspire us allPRINCE GEORGE, B.C. Feb. 2, 2017 /Troy Media/ – Irena Sendler, when asked about the thousands of Jewish children she saved during the Second World War, said, “I was no hero. I just did a regular thing.” This is a common sentiment expressed by rescuers. In many ways, they're absolutely right. Almost all of us feel a calling…

Never again: the social imperative to stop genocide

History shows that we can act to put an end to these crimes and even prevent them, yet far too often, our lack of action allows them to happen

Never again: the social imperative to stop genocideThe Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “Study the past if you would define the future.” When we look at the chaos in today's world, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. When we look at history, however, we see that many atrocities were the result of our failure to respond in a timely manner. So if we understand the mistakes…

Marching toward a world without genocide

Studying genocide helps give a voice to the victims, listening to survivors validates and empowers them. We are changed in the process

Marching toward a world without genocidePRINCE GEORGE, B.C. Oct. 20, 2016/ Troy Media/ – “When you listen to a witness, you become a witness,” Elie Wiesel often said. Those words are the driving force behind the March of the Living, an event that brings thousands of young people from around the world to Poland every spring. There they visit the places where crimes…