It only takes one

Helene Jacobs, from the German Resistance Memorial Center

Helene Jacobs, from the German Resistance Memorial Center

So, yes, I was that person reading about Nazi Germany at the beach.

It’s sort of how I roll.

Specifically, I read The Forger, a short memoir about a young Jewish man who survived in wartime Berlin in large part due to his skills as a graphic artist (he forged documents that helped to save the lives of other Jews, hence the title) and his brazen daring.

But also the kindness and courage and generosity of Helene Jacobs, now officially honored for her sacrifices, who gave up her engagement because her fiance supported the Nazis and then sheltered the protagonist, Cioma Schonhaus, during the war.

And afterwards, when his entire family had been slaughtered in Nazi camps, he reflected that he could still survive and, indeed, could still keep going every day largely because his relationship with this one German counteracted the brutality leveled by so many.

Knowing Helene Jacobs and seeing her goodness and selflessness inoculated him, in some ways, against the bitterness and hatred that would be–still today–so completely understandable.

And, so, while I’ve never been a ‘starfish’ person, never bought into the ‘power of one’, all that much, because I believe in building movements and changing systems…

it made me think.

When can we be that one?

Not trying to change the world on our own.

Not contenting ourselves with providing salves against the injustice and destruction that characterizes so much of our world.

But just interacting with others in such ways that we can restore their faith and hope, at the moments when they need it most, and being beacons of decency in a world that can use a lot more of it.

Because if Ms. Jacobs could single-handedly not only save a life but sustain that light, in the midst of so much darkness,

can’t we?

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One response to “It only takes one

  1. Thank you for posting this Melinda!

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