Tonight I gave what is presumably the last “Poland Presentation” I will ever give.
Wes and I went to the Amarillo Widows and Widowers Club, and at first I was a bit nervous because it’s been so long since I’ve presented about the experience, and, well…it’s been a while since the actual experience itself.
But not having seen the pictures and said the words for so long made them mean more now. I found myself thinking new thoughts about everything we saw and reaffirming old ones.
And I know that since we’ve returned, we’ve been kind of annoying.
We’ve made a lot of corny and obscure comments, and we’ve gone around preaching and lamenting about discrimination and injustice nonstop. And none of us ever meant to condescend or alienate in our words. It’s just that, and I see it now, though we may have said things that were vague or condescending or even cheesy, they were words that were true and believed to be true by all of us.
You can’t walk out of those gates and not feel extremely humbled and overwhelmed and guilty and confused and passionate and changed.
And it’s easy to be apathetic. It’s so easy. Setting out to change the world involves so much pressure, because…well…what if you end up changing it for the worst?
I’m sort of afraid of that. A part of me wants to stay safe and not risk causing a negative ripple effect. A part of me wants to be content with taking a stand against discrimination in my own quiet corner of the world. I don’t know what strength I have. I don’t know what ability I have. But our resistance pledge, one that may be a little corny to some, the words that say “To refuse apathy is to resist…” reminded me. They reminded me.
And, you know, every time I have presented, the part which always impacts me the most is witnessing the reactions of the audience. It’s not about what I say, it’s about what they see and what they hear.
Whether it’s young kids who still feel like they too can change the world if only they’ll try or older adults who have seen the world and witness it change first hand, the questions they pose and the insights they provide always teach me so much more than I could ever teach them in any of the “Poland Presentations.” I learn from them, and I love that.
I still can’t believe that I, I who am truly infinitesimal in the great grand scheme of the universe, I was picked by these amazing minds to visit one of the most sacred and haunting grounds in history.
It was, and is, an amazing journey.
I truly, truly hope, as selflessly as I can, that we did all that we could. That we honored the community, the hands that built this program, and most importantly, the millions and millions of people… people…who should have never suffered what they did.
I am filled with nothing but thanks. Even if I never leave my small corner of the world, I am filled with thanks. Wherever God may send me, my heart will always be stirred by what I saw and hope to never see again.
May the next do more than the last.
We are the preamble…let our actions that follow be the real resistance pledge.
-Eva Harder, the Girl from Seminole…who went to Poland