This past Friday morning I had the privilege to visit the Anne Frank House. I was able to walk through the attic space that made up the 'Secret Annex.' Here, in approximately 500 square feet (46 square meters), eight Jews hid from Nazi persecution for just over two years.
An unknown person betrayed the eight in hiding. They were arrested on August 4, 1944. A short 9 months before the Netherlands was liberated on May 5, 1945. They survived for two years in hiding, but didn't make it by a margin of nine months.
Walking through this space, I was able to get an inkling of what their life in hiding might have been like. The atmosphere was quiet and respectful. Visitors walked through polite, humble, and deferential to the space, and what the space represented.
Sometimes, I get overly exuberant. Enthusiastic. I love life. I love my chosen profession as a writer, traveler, and story teller. I have strong opinions. I speak them loudly, often, and with authority. I have a great deal to say, and I say it without hesitation.
But when I see this - the betrayal and murder of a young girl, of eight innocent people. All that energy, all that exuberance is quieted. And I remember why it is that I do what I do.
It is to bring about connection. When we forget the people in front of us are human. When we disengage from them. When we disconnect. That is when innocent children are brought to pay for our crimes.
I write, I speak, and I do all I can to bring about connection so that we never forget the humanity of our fellows. So we open our eyes and care for each other.
*Of course the photo of Anne Frank is not mine.