By: Zoë Felfle, Senior
It was icy in the classroom during the late Miami-spring-- which is different from regular Spring on account of being too hot even though it’s not even summer yet. AP World History was first period, so everyone was muted, tired from too little sleep the previous night and fighting to stay awake in order to not completely bomb the AP test at the end of the year. Today would have been like any other day: a PowerPoint, notes (to be reviewed by Mr. Sultz at a later date), and several glances between friends on opposite sides of the room as conversations flash in the blink of an eye, but today was different. Today, we were surprised with a guest speaker.
He was an older man, a violin player. He sat at the front of the class, right next to the Smart Board and chatted a bit with the people in the front of the room, waiting for the teacher to tell the class to quiet down. This would have been ordinary in every way if not for the thing that set him apart, the reason that he was in the room speaking today: He was a Holocaust survivor.
The man began his story describing his horrific experiences at Auschwitz and the death march just before the Russian troops liberated the camp and released him from a miserable, torturous death. He then proceeded to explain his life afterwards, when he moved to the United States for a new life as a little boy. He retold the story of how he found his love for the violin, and detailed his experiences, both positive and negative, in a late-forties United States, holding the class in rapt attention at all times, until finally, he shared a piece of wisdom that has impacted me to this day.
He claimed that the word “love” is overrated. He said that people use it too frequently and have stripped it of its meaning. He said that love is not the opposite of hate, but rather, the opposite of hate is kindness. If people show kindness and sympathy to those both like and unlike them, then the world would be a better place. Kindness is the best weapon in the fight against purveyors of hatred and fear.
Now more than ever, his words resonate in me, so I knew I had to retell his story and his fateful message. This event in my life is evidence that kindness “goes a long way.”
Hi! I am a proud Ravenclaw and am always obsessing about one book or another. My current obsession is The Diviners by Libba Bray. (I highly recommend it if you're into ghosts, realistic and diverse characters, and a realistic portrayal of the 1920s)!