Age-Old Defiance

Child survivors of Auschwitz. From the Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography.
Child survivors of Auschwitz. From the Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography.

We’ve seen in the news the violence at Donald Trump rallies. We’ve learned how police have systematically suppressed African-Americans in communities such as Ferguson, Missouri. And we’ve been shocked at the genocidal bigotry of ISIS, in Syria and Iraq.

In the middle of all this, I feel gladdened to see a big middle-finger stuck in the face of the most infamous bigot of all time, Adolf Hitler. Israel Kristal is that figurative middle-finger. On Friday, Guinness World Records awarded him an official certificate for being the world’s oldest man.

Israel Kristal is also a survivor of Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz concentration camp.

Hitler couldn’t stamp him out. In fact, Hitler died at the age of 56 years and 10 days. On Friday, Kristal was 112 years and 178 days. He has more than doubled the age of the man who tried to kill him for his ethnic and religious background.

I know that many people died at young ages in Auschwitz. But Kristal symbolizes to me the enduring power of diversity. This world can never become homogeneous. There will always be people who look, think, and live differently from each other. Thank heavens for that! Consider how boring our planet would be if it weren’t for this enduring power of diversity.

You may be feeling disheartened over the rise of Donald Trump, ISIS, or some other bigots. Consider the Polish-born Jew, Israel Kristal. He embodies the age-old defiance of bigotry that will never cease as long as humans remain. Maybe his long life can give you something to smile about. 🙂

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