Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Horror of Forgetting

As a history major in college, I was most fascinated with all the events that were pretty much a big deal, of which most of my friends (and myself until I took the classes) were blissfully ignorant. Now as an adult, I feel I am surrounded by events that I know nothing of: despite going to an excellent pre-college prepatory program, getting a BA in history and politics, graduate studies in theology, and a law degree, I had to learn about the Rwandan genocide myself. It was never mentioned in all the academia I participated in. Y'know what else I had never learned about?

My husband commented today that his father refused to watch the Olympics since 1972. Rather than show my ignorance, I just nodded nonchalantly and quickly googled "1972 Olympics." Imagine my horror in discovering:

On September 5, 1972, during the second week of the Olympic games in Munich, Germany, 11 Israeli coaches and athletes were taken prisoner by Palestinian terrorists (perhaps in retaliation for the International Olympic Committee refusing to admit them to the Olympic Games). All eleven were eventually killed, the entire situation mishandled by the German authorities who were so intent on showing how different they were from the 1939 Berlin games that they had 3 snipers for 8 terrorists. The IOC didn't cancel the games even after the massacre; those Arab nations that balked at having their flags lowered to half mast in the Olympic stadium were quickly appeased. Jordan was alone among the Arab nations in denouncing the attacks. German authorities have never apologized, and in fact refused to tell the athletes families how their loved ones had died until a whistle-blower released the documents.

This year, the 40th anniversary of these senseless deaths, the IOC refused a minute of silence to honor the innocent athletes. They claim that to do so would be to make the Olympics "political" and might offend those delegates who are anti-Israel.

Is this what happens when we forget? 

There is a great irony that the IOC, run largely by European countries, is perpetuating appeasement - the same historical attitude shown by Western leaders towards dictators that landed the entire world on the brink of destruction in the years of World War II. What did not work for them will not work for us. One never gets rid of a bully by letting them bully you - it only makes them hunger for more.

When we forget that there is a right and wrong in the world, when we lose our moral moorings, when we find it is more convenient to appease bullies than take a few on the chin, we lose who we are as human beings. Human beings are made for greatness! Greater causes, greater loves, greater adventures. When we cannot grasp this reality, that we were made for the grand adventure of pursuing Goodness,  we lose the ability on ever-increasing levels to recognize anything as good. And when nothing is good, nothing is worthy of protection, nothing is honored, nothing is passed on. Nothing matters when nothing is good.

We can never forget that evil is real. We must never cease to tell the children at our knees real stories of real horror: that once there were bad men, but that we beat them. That they will come again and we will beat them again. That we can never hate them, but we must be firm in our resolve against what they perpetrate and proclaim. We must resolve in our hearts, pray with our lips, live our lives welded to the principle that  when evil comes, as it always will, that we will refuse to bend the knee to it. Not bend the knee by forgetting our beloved dead, nor by silently allowing their vitriol, nor refusing to meet them on the field of battle. There can be no compromise with evil, and we must never forget that.


  1. Wow! I had no idea that happened in 1972.

    I saw your comment on one of my posts, and my Pinterest page is

    I would love to follow you too! :)

  2. I recommend watching Prefontaine. It's a movie about a runner's life during those Olympics. One of the greatest runners in U.S. history. :)


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