Showing posts with label Voices from the Past. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Voices from the Past. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"We Had a Whole World"

70 years ago today, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most deadly Nazi concentration camp.

In the video below, one way to remember the world which existed before the Holocaust:
Children of survivors, we don't have any artifacts. We don't have photographs. We don't have family heirlooms. They call us the second generation, which, if you think about it, it means our parents are the first generation and nothing existed before us. And it's not true. We had a whole history. We had a whole world. And my grandfather is just one person in that world, but he existed before the war.

And I found him.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bertrand Russell's Advice to the Future

Although I've been living in China the past 5 years I still closely follow news and commentary in the US.  During that time, I have wondered if there was an increase in the severity of several problems that I believe interfere with meaningful debate over how best to address a number of important issues, whether the environment, the recession, the debt, etc.  Two of these problems are:
  • Attacks against or dismissal of logic, science and intellectualism.
  • Labeling those with different viewpoints as "evil" or "traitors".
I find them particularly concerning since they work against traits that I believe are part of some of America's most important strengths.  I'm certainly not the first to note them and neither is new to the world.  In fact, in 1959 when Bertrand Russell was asked what he would say to people alive 1000 years later his response touched on these two issues.

The following is a video of Russell's response.  It is just a 2 minute clip from a longer interview (which can be found here).  I'd be curious to know how various people interpret and react to it.

I don't think his response would be at all out of place if he made it today, especially this:
In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected we have to learn to tolerate each other.  We have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don't like.  
Maybe the continued aptness of his comments shouldn't come as a surprise since he apparently thought this advice would still be useful about 950 years from now -- possibly a silver lining for an interpretation of struggles in today's debates.  And while Bertrand Russell's comments were likely the result of some careful thinking, I suspect he would also appreciate debate about his very own advice.  After all, he has said:
I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.
I believe there is much strength in that view.  And I believe that if more people held it, we might be able to have more productive debates in the US.