January 27th, the anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau liberation, marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today, we honour the memory of the more than six million Jewish victims, as well as the millions of other human beings victimized by Nazi persecution. Further, this is a time to make space for reflection; the past is a profoundly resonant lens to view our modern world through. With intolerance, faith-based discrimination, and bigotry on an alarmingly steep incline, it's more important than ever to embrace collective responsibility and keep history fresh in our minds, lest it repeat itself. The atrocities of the Holocaust were fueled by dangerously unimpeded hatred and perpetuated by complacency; indifference should never be an option.
The Holocaust is a living history, not merely a historical chapter of cruelty, far removed from the modern day. Many survivors of this genocide are very much alive, as are the memories of those lost, and the stories of their resilience. Education is one of the most powerful ways to battle intolerance; one way that we are educating ourselves today is by engaging with the firsthand accounts of victims. The Toronto Holocaust Museum, for example, platforms a number of digital resources such as Canadian Survivors – In Their Own Words, In Search of Better Days: Holocaust Survivors and Canada, as well as a number of interactive in-person or online exhibits underscoring the poignant importance of remembering.
Education can also look like committing yourself, or your organization to an ongoing learning journey. At ParriagGroup, we often collaborate closely with departments and branches of federal, provincial, and municipal governments, wanting to do better by those they serve. We see firsthand the difference that creating space for acceptance, dialogue, and safety makes. This is why we are so passionate about facilitating transformative change, addressing systemic inequities, and reinforcing the importance of ingraining values of equity, diversity, and inclusion into both policy and practice. Transparency, compassion, and accountability from governmental bodies are critically important in a world where hatred proliferates; it's more than a commitment to EDI, it's a pledge to build a shared commitment to a future free of systemic prejudice.
It's equally vital that we, the public, have a vested interest in confronting and eradicating homegrown hate in all of its insidious forms. When we see our neighbours receiving similarly unchecked discrimination, we must draw on teachings of the past and be proactive and firm in our stance against rapidly spiralling bigotry. One lesson we can all learn from the Holocaust is the pace with which espousing hateful rhetoric can morph into enacting tangible violence, with dire consequences. By recognizing the consequences of apathy, we empower ourselves to be active participants in the fight against intolerance.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a call to action, imploring us all to confront uncomfortable truths about the world around us. After all, indifference was one of the most insidious accomplices of Nazi occupation. The actions of the Holocaust were fueled by the same malignant prejudice we witness today; preserving the dignity of all human beings must be a constant priority. While the somber reality of this day is indisputable, so is the testament to the human spirit and the unshakeable power of faith. Today, we honour the myriad acts of bravery, solidarity, and strength exhibited in the throes of such despair. May we allow their histories to inform our future and vow to never stand silent in the face of hatred again.
"It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people who would bomb a church in Birmingham, Alabama but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say: Wait on time." - Martin Luther King Jr.