I was talking yesterday with Beanie (who, for those of you who may not know or remember, is my nine-year-old daughter), while Daddy and Punkin’ (my eleven-year-old) were out renting a movie, about my experiences at the Holocaust fellowship. I started the conversation by asking her if she understood what I had just done.
Bean: Yep. You went to study about the Holocaust.
Me: And what is “the Holocaust”? Can you explain it?
B: Well, it was a time when bad people did terrible things to a lot of other people. They took them from their homes and they put them in special places all together and..
M: Wait a minute – who’s “they“?
B; The Nazis.
M: Good – remember that it wasn’t just “the Germans.” The Nazis were a special group, and it’s better to think of the people who did these things as Nazis.
This conversation went on for a bit, and she expressed her understanding of the basic points of the Shoah. Then I asked her if she understood WHY I spent a week away; did she comprehend why I thought that this was important enough to go away from my family for a week?
It took her a little while to work her way around it – she focused mainly on my professional life, saying things like “so you can teach about the literature and poetry from that time” and “so you can be a better teacher.” Finally, though, I asked her WHY I think these things are important to do – WHY do I teach the literature and poetry? WHY do I want to be a better teacher?
She thought for a moment or two, then said, “So you can make people understand that hate is bad, and so that it might never happen again.”