“The world can be better if there’s love, tolerance and humility.”

warsaw-ghettoSome 20 years ago now, I knew a woman who was a Jewish refugee from the Soviet Union, originally from Odessa in Ukraine.  This woman was everything we know Eastern European women to be, but very smart, in her own way very good and knew the hypocrisies of American life for what they are.

When the film Schindler’s List was released, several people asked her if she had seen it and she said, “I don’t need to see it.  I know.  There were thousands who did what Walter Schindler did.”  (Emphasis hers.)

This week the world lost one such person.  Her name was Irena Sendler.  She was the daughter of a Polish physician and part of an underground network that smuggled thousands of children out of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw preserving their identities and locations should their families survive so that they might be reunited after the war.  Some were, some were not.

Her story appeared – for many of us for the first time – in the UK’s Daily Mail.  It is an extraordinary account of a woman determined to do good and serve humanity to the best of her ability with no desire for recognition, even though so many insisted.  It is definitely worth reading.

More than that, Ms. Sendler’s words toward the bottom of the article say more about the world than all the pundits preaching peace could ever hope to convey:

“After World War II, it seemed that humanity understood something, and nothing like that would happen again.

“Humanity has understood nothing. Religious, tribal, national wars continue. The world continues to be in a sea of blood.”

But she added: “The world can be better if there’s love, tolerance and humility.”

Pequiescat in pace, Ms. Sendler.

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