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My Take: 7 life lessons from a Holocaust survivor
Author Caroline Stoessinger, right, befriended Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommers.
April 19th, 2012
01:27 PM ET

My Take: 7 life lessons from a Holocaust survivor

Editor's Note: Caroline Stoessinger, a concert pianist, is the author of "A Century of Wisdom: Lesson's From the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor."

By Caroline Stoessinger, Special to CNN

At age 108, Alice Herz-Sommers is the world's oldest survivor of the Holocaust. She was imprisoned at Theresienstadt, which was conceived by Hitler as a "model" concentration camp.

Herz-Sommers - Alice, as I know her - is a pianist. In between summer 1943 and the camp's liberation at the end of the war, she played more than 100 concerts at Theresienstadt. Most were solo recitals culled from memory from her extensive repertoire. She has survived for more than a century with a profound faith in humanity intact and a smile on her face.

As music is her kind of prayer, Alice still practices piano - Bach, Beethoven, Schubert – for three hours every day.

I got to know her in London, where she now lives, through mutual friends who are musicians, historians and Holocaust survivors. For Holocaust Remembrance Day, here are 7 lessons she has taught me:

1. Hatred only begets hatred

Alice recognizes that anyone, anywhere, and at any time can adopt hatred and, worse, can infect others with its venom. Hatred that may begin with one person, like a single pebble cast into a lake, can spread out incrementally to larger and larger groups, and even to entire nations.

"We are responsible for our actions and our words," she says. " And each of us must vigilantly guard against prejudice and hatred in our own minds and with the words that fall from our lips. No one is exempt. Hitler could not have come to power except in the climate of excessive hatred."

2. Love your work, no matter the situation

Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler's "hangman," and his underlings understood that adding musical and artistic events to Theresienstadt could be a huge publicity stunt, to prove to the outside world that all was OK for the Jews.

They ordered the prisoners to form a Freizeitgestaltung, or Free Time Committee, to organize concerts, lectures and other events. Crudely printed posters appeared to advertise the programs.

Prisoners had no money so tickets were free. So many musicians had been sent to Theresienstadt that for a time before the members were shipped to their deaths in Auschwitz, four symphony orchestras could play there simultaneously.

The artists took their performances just as seriously as if they were performing on the world stage. "As our situation became even more difficult, we tried even harder to reach for perfection, for the meaning in the music," Alice says. "Music was our way of remembering our inner selves, our values."

The Nazis failed to understand that the power of music to provide comfort and hope to the performers and their audiences was stronger than the terror of their Nazi masters. Every composition that
was written in Theresienstadt, every concert played there, became a moral victory against the enemy.

3. Perseverance

On Alice's third day in Theresienstadt, she was told to play a recital the following week. "But I need to practice," she responded.

The next morning, Alice found the room where she had been assigned the 9:00 – 10:00 practice slot. With no time to waste, she began to work on her Chopin etudes only to find that the pedal did not work and that several keys stuck repeatedly.

Refusing to be defeated, she quickly adapted to the piano's limitations and began to play with abandon, losing herself in the music. "At least I was making music and that always made me happy," she says.

Despite the conditions in the camp and the inadequate, broken-down, legless instruments provided for concerts, emotionally she may have given her finest interpretations of Beethoven's and Schubert's sonatas in Theresienstadt.

4. In routine there is hope

Despite the filth and hunger, Alice's routine life of working her obligatory factory job, performing, caring for her six-year-old son Rafi, and giving him and a few other children elementary piano lessons in spare moments helped her never to lose hope.

"We were not heroic," Alice says. "We improvised. We managed to keep doing, keep working as usual. To not practice was unthinkable."

5. If you have something spiritual, you don't need as much food

In the camp Alice learned what she could live without. Rather than grieving for what she did not have, she rejoiced in what she had. Alice knew that no one could rob her of the treasures of her mind. "I am richer than the world's richest person because I have music in my heart and mind," she says today.

While performing the prisoners could nearly forget their hunger and their surroundings. Besides the terror of finding their names on a deportation list for Auschwitz, the fear of dying of starvation, typhus, and other diseases had become a reality.

"Music was our food, our religion and our hope," she says. "Music was life. We did not, could not, would not give up."

6. Complaining does not help. It makes everyone feel bad.

Alice is anything but naïve and is acutely aware of the evil that has always been present in our world. "I know about the bad, but I look for the good," she says.

7. Faith is stronger than fear.

As she faces the last years of her life, Alice does not waste time with fears of death and worries about the unknown. "We come from and return to infinity," she says. "The soul
lives on without the body." Alice finds consolation in her spiritual theme song, "Urlicht," with its opening words "I come from God and I will return to God."

"Things are as they are supposed to be," she says. "I am still here, never too old so long as I breathe to wonder, to learn, and to teach."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Caroline Stoessinger.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Holocaust • Judaism • Opinion

soundoff (507 Responses)
  1. thinquer

    Leopold Engleitner – age 107 – the Holocaust survivor who told the Nazis, "No!"

    see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d_n4irUqMk

    April 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  2. tommy

    nice story... cnn makes sure to fill its daily quota of holocaust stories along with "all whites are racist " stories... more of the same from them

    April 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • tofer

      Way to ruin a perfectly good article.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • inachu

      Tommy Tommy Tommy!
      You are so correct in what you say but those 7 lifes lessons are for any race. Maybe when you and I are 80 years old then we can have our own CNN article called "WE TOLD YOU SO." But so what if they want to abuse our govt to support their own failed govt. So what if they want our country to fight and support theirs. The fact remains some people have learned those 7 lessons and some have not. The war by proxy people have not learned those lessons and never will because power blinds them.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • idiotpoiniterouter

      No, just Nazis...are you a Nazi? Where do you get "all white people?"

      April 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  3. James

    Great story.Very inspiring.As a 30 something non jew who works for orthodox jews, I really never payed much attention to that period of life's history until I worked there.I guess I was always a little guilty of buying the usual stereotypes, as I had little to no exposure to jews.These people are some of the most friendliest, down to earth, level headed people I've ever met.My post has little to do with the story, just felt would share.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • joe schmo

      I think that's great. It would be nice to see it spread.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  4. ES

    Yes, hatred begets hatred. All americans that think it couldn't here in the US, should remember it . There is so much hatred for anyone who is different. Here in Texas they hate "liberals" and "commies". Wanting access to reasonable health insurance, for example, makes you a commie.

    She is a very wise woman. Too bad such wonderful people like her don't exist in politcs. I share many of her views – love what you do, don't compalin since it doesn't help anyone, don't hate. I learned these things in a school of hard knocks. Unfortunately, for msot of us, until we live through the lessons of life we don't learn them.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • PriceG3

      Alas, conservatives in Texas have no monopoly on closed minds. I have friends on both side of the political spectrum; and those in the more liberal camps are sometimes very judgmental toward Christianity, or at the very least, uncomfortable with it, despite the many tolerant and loving Christians who have lived down through history (in addition, unfortunately, to those who do not fit that description). The lady in this article is so inspirational, she lifts us all up above such pettinesses. 🙂

      April 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  5. Plain Ol' Dreamer

    Hollow costs are just that,,, Hollow c0strations of centralvisions' meanderings to "abate" the general relativities of socialized constructivisms' demeanors! We all are accosted every day by constancies' remembrances to never forget the worse of the worst! Seems to me to be a semitic dialogue with ever aging ritualized consequentialisms but what truly are these consequences' weightiness?

    April 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Funny

      Lol..sounds like the Reverand Jesse Jackson is waxing poetic here.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Funny

      @Funny

      Hey! That's my name too!

      April 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  6. Sorry Momoya

    Your comments state to the true sadness of the state your in. I hope you get better soon.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • momoya

      And what "state" is that? And why? Are you really telling me that if Hitler was 108 and had suffered as much as a Holocaust survivor you wouldn't tell him that his ideas were bad?

      April 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  7. pico

    Hatred only begets hatred..
    i wonder who should learn from this lesson?

    April 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • joe schmo

      Everyone.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  8. karen

    to the author: It would be fascinating to know if any of the compositions by the prisoners of the camps have survived in any fashion.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Sumo

      I couldn't agree more! I'm sure they would be amazing to hear!

      April 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  9. anonymous

    Bless this woman's wisdom. My grandmother lost family in Treblinka and Auschwitz. It was hard growing up, trying to understand what it was like for her family to have died in those places. It wasn't until I got older, that I understood that violence begets violence, and hatred certainly sets off a domino effect. If we could just teach our children, the lessons Ms. Herz-Sommers is trying to explain to us, how much better this world would be.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  10. jimmy

    bless alice. i have never met a holocaust survivor but i am almost always amazed at the stories i read of them. following her seven steps does not mean you will never have hardship in your life...look what she went thru...but they are guidelines that i (and others) can certainly use effectively right now in life.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Paul

      Yes, we all think we have it so bad...not when compared to Alice. I am humbled.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • joe schmo

      To learn from them is to gain incredible wisdom.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  11. johhny b bad

    Thank you, these are wonderful3;)

    April 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Plain Ol' Dreamer

    People or "humanists" as I like to put us, are conglumerations within social constructs of sedintariness meaning, as groups do we cluster around and about! We need social recognitions to make us feel better about one's thoughts that either plague your mind's eye or are distillations meant to perpetuate into steamy ventedness of regularisms! We or most of us seem to want a nurturing away from or toward something! I have this innate desire to be understood in my Words! Sometimes these words of mine are flattened and sometimes they do spring up! For Christ's sake I hope my words are of notability!

    April 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Paul

      huh

      April 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • momoya

      Paul, today's people are idiots and self-centered, so why do you care about Plain Ol's message?

      April 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • closet atheist

      Oh boy... rambling incoherently again.... with a new screen name

      April 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • just sayin

      There are those that are your basic run of the mill delusional and then there is a guy like this O VOY!

      April 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Plain Ol' Dreamer

      closet atheist,,,,,,.,,,,,,.

      I got tired of being badgered with Pipe inuendoes<<<<< 🙂 😦 🙂

      April 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Paul

    It would be great if we all learned from her experiences and her wisdom. But today's people are idi0ts and self-centered.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Plain Ol' Dreamer

      Paul,,,,,, ,,,,,, ,.

      "Centrists" are we all bound to be! One can only empathise with otherly beings or one may just sympathise along with the otherly.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Hitler the Atheist

      True!

      April 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • pico

      do you mean what Israel is doing to the Palestinian

      April 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Kalessin

      @Pico- what do you mean? You mean it's wrong that Israel doesn't blow them up when the Palestinian terrorist govt shoots rockets into Israel?
      You do realize that the Gaza Strip has a higher standard of living than pretty much all of Africa right? The Gaza Strip's #1 trading partner is Israel. So plz..don't act like Israel has put up some kind of 100 foot tall wall and never let's anyone leave the land.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • pico

      @Kalessin the Jewish people flourish in the Arab world special in Morocco while they were persecute in ALL Europe
      but now.. you know the rest.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  14. Hitler the Atheist
    April 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Hitler Was an Avowed Catholic

      April 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • just sayin

      Hitler was a Christian

      April 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • pico

      @Hitler the Atheist for the persecution of the Jewish people in Europe the Vatican had hand on this so stop your hypocrisy

      April 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      Hitler was an atheist all proofs and arguments are readily available. God bless

      April 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • edwardo

      Why do you think Hitler hated the Jews? Because they killed Jeebus. Hitlet was Catholic. The Vatican used to throw parties for him. Google it!!

      April 22, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Kalessin

      @edwardo- research "stab-in-the-back legend" and the Weimar Republic. That will give you a more accurate reason why Hitler did not care for the Jews.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  15. Big George in Big D

    So many people have overcame the holocaust. Bless them – it had to be tough.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Hitler Was an Avowed Catholic

      And 'loving' god let the holocaust happen without even lifting a finger to stop it.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer clearly worked for them as they sucked in the gas, shot, burned, experimented on....yes God was with them and listened.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • joe schmo

      hitler- Before you accuse God, make note that He gave us "free will". Think about it and it will answer your question. If God didn't give us free will then He would dictate our every move. He will guide us but it's your choice how you proceed in your life, which in turn might impact others.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Kalessin

      Wow..such angry little bitter people on here today. The topic is Shoah and yet they have to bring religion into it. Where did you get "loving" from anyway? You might be confusing your Torah from your Pauline Letters.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • momoya

      For Joe on god's gift of free will.
      .
      .
      .
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1BzP1wr234&w=640&h=360]

      April 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Joe – can you trick god?

      Your god claims both omnipotence and omniscience. Your god claims to have known you before he formed you. God knows if you will go to heaven or hell. In fact, your god knew this before he even created the universe.

      If your god knows you are going to heaven, can you surprise him and show up in hell? Likewise, if your god knows you have your ticket punched for hell, can you end up sneaking into heaven?

      If you show up where god isn't expecting you, then your god is neither omnipotent or omniscient. Thus why worship him?

      If you can't surprise god and show up where he isn't expecting you, then your fate was sealed before you were conceived, and you have no free will. So why worship this cretin who purposefully creates billions of people for the sole purpose of torturing them for all eternity?

      April 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Kalessin

      Free Will is subjective to perception. Just because God knows all does not mean you still do not choose what you are doing.

      April 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • momoya

      @Kalessin

      Your god can't have omniscience and provide free will; that's stupid.. If God knows all, then you can't chose anything that wasn't already ordained to happen exactly as it did.. That's not choice.. It's stupid enough to believe in undetectable realms, diseases (sin), and body parts (soul), but you can't believe in a complete paradox.. Next thing you'll be telling me is that god is all powerful but he can't stop hell or people from going there or something equally ridiculous.

      April 20, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Kalessin

      "Your god can't have omniscience and provide free will; that's stupid.."

      ~No it's not. Just because God knows what is going to happen does not mean that the choices made are under his control. Use a home video for example. Not a great example but it's what we got. You tape a home video. The ppl on the video are acting out of their own accord...their own free will. Hours later you watch the video and you know what's going to happen. Does the behavior of the ppl on the video still show the apsect of free will. You knowing about it doesn't change the genuine reactions upon that video.
      Same with God. Just because he knows what choices we make does not mean we are not free to make those choices.

      "If God knows all, then you can't chose anything that wasn't already ordained to happen exactly as it did.."

      ~There is no contradiction between knowing something and free will. Unless you think knowing something implies control over that something. They are not related.

      "It's stupid enough to believe in undetectable realms, diseases (sin), and body parts (soul), but you can't believe in a complete paradox.."

      ~Ppl belive they are loved and they cannot prove it. Before anyone yammers on...I am not talking about the emotion of love. I am talking about you believing you are loved. There is a difference. And again..there is no paradox.

      "Next thing you'll be telling me is that god is all powerful but he can't stop hell or people from going there or something equally ridiculous."

      God is all powerul but why would he stop hell?

      April 20, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • momoya

      @ the moron

      You idiot.. If god knows everything then nothing can happen except the way he knows it.. That means no free will.. You can't have a pretty cake on your counter that you've already eaten.

      Love is a philosophical concept.. You can't prove philosophical concepts.. You can only prove their effectiveness according to preset guidelines that are assumed by the philosophical concept.

      Fair point about hell.. I guess the sort of fvcking azzhole tyrant that would build a hell would certainly want most of his creation to go there and suffer infinitely more than all the suffering ever experienced by every living thing in existence.. Nope, you're right.. Your disgusting and tyrannical god doesn't want to save people from his hell by sacrificing himself to himself to appease himself because of undetectable diseases in undetectable body parts because a woman talked with a snake and did something wrong before she even knew what was wrong.. Makes perfect sense–for a uber-Hitler sort of god.

      April 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Kalessin

      "You idiot.. If god knows everything then nothing can happen except the way he knows it.. That means no free will.. You can't have a pretty cake on your counter that you've already eaten."

      ~Now now...take a time out little one. You don't need to stoop to name calling when you get frustrated. There is no correlation between what God knows and how you respond to stimuli.
      As for the cake comment...I am not omnipresent in time. If I was...I could have my cake, eat it and have eaten it all at the same time.

      "Love is a philosophical concept.. You can't prove philosophical concepts.."

      ~Exactly....but I bet you still believe you are loved and would call it real if someone important to you asked you.

      "You can only prove their effectiveness according to preset guidelines that are assumed by the philosophical concept."

      ~But there is no proof one could offer that could not be countered. To believe that your are loved is no different than believing in a diety. Neither can be proven, yet both will be called real by the one that believes.

      "Fair point about hell.. I guess the sort of fvcking azzhole tyrant that would build a hell would certainly want most of his creation to go there and suffer infinitely more than all the suffering ever experienced by every living thing in existence.."

      ~I guess you do not believe in justice..at least from the divine perspective. You rather think that a finite being such as yourself would know better than one that would infinite. If that is true...you area fool.

      "Nope, you're right.. Your disgusting and tyrannical god"

      ~I have no "disgusting or tyannical god. You assume much.

      "...for a uber-Hitler sort of god."

      ~Ah..gotta bring up the hitler insults. Debate fail I am afriad. Why not use Abraham Lincoln next time...under some aspects of the term tyrant...he was one. But of course that's not the point. You want to drum up the most culturally vile name you can think of.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • momoya

      @ the moron

      K, even you recognize that a person can't be both alive and dead.. One condition makes the other impossible.. The same is true of free-will and omniscience.. If god knows everything exactly how it will occur than it can't occur any other way.. Thus, there's no free will or no omniscience on god's part..

      Belief in love is completely different than belief in god.. With love, I know exactly WHO I am loved by.. I have complete evidence of it.. There's no proof for god, so there's no need to consider whether or not he exists..

      Justice is a human philosophical concept.. As such, it does not consider eternal punishment as justice for a finite offense.. Can you think of a more vile being then one that comes up with the idea for eternal torture and then goes about making it happen?. I'm not insulting god, I'm insulting Hitler.. Hitler was an angel if we use god's behavior to compare his to.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Kalessin

      "@ the moron"

      ~Ah name calling...a sign of a good junior high education but none higher.

      "K, even you recognize that a person can't be both alive and dead.."

      ~In a linear existence..no of course not. Um, are we talking about a being that is regulated to a linear existence?

      "One condition makes the other impossible.. The same is true of free-will and omniscience.. If god knows everything exactly how it will occur than it can't occur any other way.. Thus, there's no free will or no omniscience on god's part.."

      ~You are still wrong. There is no correlation between knowing what the results are and the free will to bring about those results. You have yet to show otherwise.

      "Belief in love is completely different than belief in god.. With love, I know exactly WHO I am loved by.. I have complete evidence of it.. There's no proof for god, so there's no need to consider whether or not he exists.."

      ~You have no evidence of it. No more than what a person that believes in a diety does. You have "evidence" and so do they of their belief. But neither of you can prove it.

      "Justice is a human philosophical concept.."

      ~No, justice can be a human philosophical concept. But we are not talking about human justice. W are implying that if there was a diety...that being's view on justice would not be like ours.

      "Can you think of a more vile being then one that comes up with the idea for eternal torture and then goes about making it happen?."

      ~Maybe a finite being dictating to the infinite that they know better. Small things are usually offended easily by there betters. You are no different.

      "I'm not insulting god, I'm insulting Hitler.. Hitler was an angel if we use god's behavior to compare his to."

      ~Yeah..you are only using what is culturally the biggest villian in humanity for the last 100 years to insult ppl's views on God. Yeah..you are being an honest debater here. *rolls eyes*

      April 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • momoya

      Impressive effort for a worthless reply.. You believe in logical impossibilities.. Goody for you.. *rolls eyes*

      Why is god's torturing behavior right if Hitler's behavior was wrong? How is it honest to think Hitler is bad and an eternally torturing billions god is good? You're lying to yourself.. Ha!!

      April 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Kalessin

      "You believe in logical impossibilities."

      ~Nope. You're inabilty to understand what is being said doesn't make my premise impossible. You got to be able to think outside the box lad.

      "Why is god's torturing behavior right if Hitler's behavior was wrong?"

      ~You are in error to make the assumption that God is torturing anyone.

      April 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • momoya

      keep on spinnin' sister!! Keep that rationalization up!! There you go!! You've really found your rhythm now!

      April 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Kalessin

      I am afraid that you are the one that isn't saying anything new on this.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • just sayin

      Hitler was an atheist. His crimes stand as a testimony to the evil in the heart of a person who denies God. God bless

      April 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Leo

      Prime, You are confusing the issue, for if the Almighty God gave us complete free will, and what we do in life determines our destiny it is not God that predestined it, even though he knows the outcome already.

      If you are destined for Hell it is only YOUR fault.

      God does know your choice ahead of time, and as he knew with Pharaoh he used his hardened heart to show his might and his power.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Kalessin

      An athiest? On the grounds of morality I wouldn't agree. Most atheists I know have much higher morals than what Hitler seemed to have.
      Just as with Hitler being Christian....I agree with those that say no one knows for sure what a person really believes inside. They may say one thing and behave very opposite of it

      Take a vegan for example. If one calls themself a vegan but yet eats a burger....are they still a vegan. They say they are but the act seems counter to it.
      Was Hitler an atheist? I don't know but I am unaware of anything that would point to it without a doubt.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Kalessin

      There you go Leo *thumbs up*

      April 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • edwardo

      @Kellisin – You said "Just because God knows what is going to happen does not mean that the choices made are under his control." So not everything is under his control? But, I thought he had complete control !! If he doesn't have complete control, then he's not a god.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Kalessin

      @edwardo- "So not everything is under his control? But, I thought he had complete control !! If he doesn't have complete control, then he's not a god."

      You are incorrect in your thinking. Just because one has the ability to be in control at all times. does not mean has to be. He can allow free will. If he couldn't allow free will...he would not be all powerful now would he?

      April 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  16. yourlackofcouth

    @momoya - wow...how reassuring to know that we have people like you in the world to belittle the thoughts of a 108 year old holocaust survivor. *note sarcasm

    April 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • momoya

      So let me get this straight, you're saying that a particular age and/or experience makes a person's ideas beyond criticism?

      April 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by 'yourlackofcouth' is a form of ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      April 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • yourlackofcouth

      I'm aware that someone's age/experience doesn't place them beyond criticism, I just think it's sad that nothing is held as sacred anymore.

      April 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  17. Luvvy Duvvy

    Holocaust happening again! Everyone, including the President, needs to read "Escape from Camp 14". It is One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, and will open your eyes to what type of horrors are happening there. How can we, as freedom loving people, just sit back and ignore these poor people? We need to go in and stop it now!

    April 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • closet atheist

      More war, huh..?? There's nothing "luvvy duvvy" about that.

      Also, where's the wisdom in invading a nuclear-armed and highly unpredictable regime. Even if they can't seem to figure out long-range missiles, I'd bet my lunch money they could cause holy hell with South Korea. The true humanitarian crisis may be what happens as a result of us poking our nose where it doesn't belong yet again.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • just sayin

      Luvvy,

      Nothing is stopping you from picking up a gun and going over there...good luck and tell us hoiw it works out for you.

      Former Marine

      April 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      ps if you are Christian Luvy then just pray about it...God will take care of those "poor people over there"

      April 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      " “Children in the camps scavenged constantly for food, eating rats, insects and undigested kernels of corn they found in cow dung.”
      >
      Why should we be concerned, God's will is always done. Children do not suffer or die without a valid reason from God. We are not to question or act...simply accept. God Bless

      April 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer is talking with God. The life changing presence of God. God bless

      April 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  18. momoya

    Numbers one through four make a lot of sense; numbers five through seven are stupid as heck.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • n stone

      In a group situation #5 makes the most sense

      April 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • J.W

      What is wrong with number 6? Complaining doesn't ever help anything.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Kalessin

      No...sometimes holding onto an ideal (or in this case faith) is all that keeps a person from completely breaking down.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Jack

      Thank you for showing your foolishness.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Eric

      Number 6 makes a lot of sense!! No one likes a complainer!!

      April 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • momoya

      Since "spirituality" can't be proven as anything other than a state of mind, it is PRODUCED by nutrition; therefore, the act of believing something "spiritual" burns up fuel in the body rather than satiates it..

      Complaining helps people sometimes receive justice, and that's a good thing.. If nobody complained about slavery, we'd still have it probably.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • momoya

      Just to add a quick detail: I'm not saying that thinking spiritually uses up the most fuel, and I think it's quite likely that thinking spiritually uses less fuel than say, anger, for example.. So then it may depend on what aspect of spirituality is most considered; a hateful sense of spirituality might be bad, but a peaceful, meditative sense of spirituality might be the best mental mode that uses bodily fuel efficiently to produce a feeling of well-being.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Funny

      Momoya

      Disagree, speaking up helps destroy injustice, complaining however is the step below that where people complain about their present situation but they don't do anything about it, don't offer how to fix it. Complaining doesn't help and like its been said, no one likes a complainer.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • On the other hand

      Eric
      "No one likes a complainer!!"

      True, but dissatisfaction produces change. I think it was G.B. Shaw who said something like - all progress is due to the dissatisfied man.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • J.W

      Well except the complaining had to be accompanied by some sort of action. If I complain that my soup is too cold nothing will happen, but if i put it in the microwave it will get warm again.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • momoya

      @Funny

      What's the difference between "speaking up" about injustice versus "complaining" about injustice?. You've heard of the "Arab Spring?" "Women's suffrage?" "Abolitionism?"

      Complaining about injustice is in the beginning stages of change.. Don't let words trip you up in the a.ssesment of ideas.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Funny

      Momoya

      Fair enough, I guess in this instance the main difference is, the arab spring, woman's suffrage, etc... wasn't because people did as they were told and we unhappy about it. They took action, they spoke up, the protested out in the streets.

      Like JW said, if I sit at the table and complain that my soup is too cold, does that really do anything vs. saying my soup is cold and then taking the action to put it in the microwave to heat it up

      April 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • J.W

      I can see what momoya means that complaining may be the first step as far as if I complain to someone else, but that person would have to have some sort of reason to acknowledge my complaint, unless the were just a nice person. Say I write a letter to my mayor about a dangerous intersection that needs a traffic light. The mayor will probably acknowledge that concern because he is worried about being reelected.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • columbus

      It is only stupid to you because you have far more than these people had during their ordeal. They had nothing, they were starved, frozen, and sentenced to death by Hitler, what's left to live for? It finally comes down to the only thing Hitler couldn't take away from them, their spirit. This woman survived and learned some of life's greatest lessons, you can only hope to listen and learn from her and you will be rewarded in ways you can not yet see.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • momoya

      Yes, columbus, faith takes over where reason cannot go.. I think that sort of "faith" is probably experienced by everyone who is in a life-threatening situation whether or not they actually survive.. It does the mind more good to focus on a good outcome versus a bad outcome.. I just wouldn't ever call that "spirituality."

      April 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • columbus

      I think you understand, momoya, but unless you have ever faced a situation that seems impossible, you will never understand the true spiritual level that Alice Herz-Sommer has experienced. Your interpretation of spirituality is probably based in religion, the spirituality Alice talks about goes deeper than where her mind and body can take her, it's something only you can believe is there, and it is sometimes your only salvation.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • momoya

      @Columbus

      I'm not impressed with assumptions and generalizations, nor am I concerned with your opinion of what I do or don't understand to what degree.

      April 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  19. WOT

    I AM A JIM CROW–SURVIVOR!

    April 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  20. Kalessin

    A reverent Yom Ha-Shoah to all.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.