I’ve heard a history teacher once teach her students the importance of personalizing individuals in history books. She explains the approximate numbers of casualties most history books provide in which become unclear pictures of the event as numbers of casualties or deaths comes into the millions, we lose the few hundreds or few one-digits that we should count. Every life matters, but why are we forgetting the importance of these individuals? Is it because when there isn’t a face to a person, we often ignore the lesser numbers we see as “extra”?
Even the most infamous event that everyone acknowledges, the Holocaust, has unexact numbers of deaths. When you walk through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., you will see pictures of the victims of the Holocaust mounted on the walls. You can definitely pinpoint an area and start counting the number of pictures on the walls, but when we reach the thousands, the millions, and in some cases the billions, each faces, each deaths become more vague. Names and faces who are not included in the records become even more unrecognizable as numbers. And because we don’t see the long list of millions of names of people who were mass murdered, instead we see it chunked into a rounded-up number of 6, 12, or even more millions, we often forget how sad and tragic it was for the individuals.
While sitting through that history teacher’s unforgettable lesson, I have come to realize how easily a human being can be forgotten from earth. We need to show more compassion, more awareness to the people around us. I know I surely don’t want to disappear from the face of his earth without anyone noticing.
Photography by MP
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.