An Interfaith Genocide Service
We’ve heard it before and I’m sure that I have said it: Out of the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel rose. While there are sufficient causal and temporal links to suggest this is true, another reason we say it, I think, is our desperate need to make sense of the incomprehensible, to find something redemptive out of the horror. While this narrative is stunningly effective in salving our emotions and stoking our spirits, the story also obfuscates certain truths about genocide, ours and others’.
Let us pause, then, to review the 20th century genocide of the Jews in the light of the genocides of the Arrohattoc, Apalachee, Yazoo, Timucua, Araucanian, Yahi, and Clackamas Indians, who are all now completely extinct at the hands of white Europeans, the 4 million Ukrainians starved by Stalin, the quarter of a million “vanished” Australian Aborigines, the million plus Armenians by the Turks, the near-million Tutsis murdered by Hutu, the two million gypsies, homosexuals, and handicapped also killed by the Nazis, atomic bombs we Americans dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A few things we notice right away from the comparison:
–Sometimes genocide is fully successful and there are simply no survivors;
–Sometimes the genocide is so successful that, a few years later, we have never even heard about it or the decimated population;
—Genocides’ causes include hate, economics, and politics and may be covered up or denied for the same reasons.
–Genocide is a tool of terror that has been utilized for thousands of years.
–As a people who have suffered genocide, we are not alone, and the list grows longer each year.
In almost no case does genocide lead to anything but death, chaos, decimated communities, destroyed economies, disease, starvation, mass dislocation, mass psychological trauma, and mass suffering. No miracle country raises phoenix like out of the ashes to cradle the wounded and ensure the survival of the race or religion. Mostly, that which has been destroyed remains destroyed, like Eastern European Jewry in Eastern Europe today.
This year, as last year, our Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial service will be made stronger, broader and deeper by our joining together with the Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance in an Interfaith Service against Genocide: Prayer, Healing, and Action. Our service will be held at Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, Apr. 29, 4pm. Among the genocides honored will be Jewish, Japanese, Cambodian, Rwandan, and Armenian. Prior to the service at 3pm there will be a documentary film shown on the Armenian genocide, an event we know very little about, still denied in its entirety by Turkey. During the multifaith, multiethnic service we will learn and sing a stirring antiphon with the Armenian Church choir as response to each horror. Following the service, there will be a reception with Armenian and Cambodian foods along with info/action tables to help us carry what we have learned and felt forward into action.
May there arise, out of all our peoples’ ashes, hope, understanding, and the composite will to make “Never Again” a global reality.
An Interfaith Genocide Service