This week marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the infamous concentration camp known as Auschwitz. This drone video from the BBC flies over the remains of a man-made nightmare where over 1 million people were systematically murdered....
The cold calculation, the careful planning, the macabre farcical sign "Arbeit macht frei" (work will make you free) promising freedom for those who worked hard placed by men who knew that no one was intended to get out alive. This all speaks to murder not only peculiar for scale but also for the amount of care and planning that went into it. Human beings butchered systematically like an assembly line with the extermination of an entire people as the goal. Others like Stalin perhaps killed more in total but the insane genius that was on display here is unparalleled in human history.
Humanity was given an unmistakable message as the camps were discovered and liberated. We had gone down a very dark road. Nations that were once some of the brightest cultural lights in the world had turned their knack for efficiency into a perverse proficiency in killing men, women and children. The shock and horror remains today although it is also clear that in spite of the regular reminders, fewer and fewer remember what happened in these camps in what seems to have happened so long ago. Fewer yet seem to care.
What about today? Surely we are better than what is on display from this drone camera, the shame of Germany on display in a silent, cold reminder?
In the developing world the news is regularly filled with stories of modern atrocities. Men still kill men and many more innocents as well over land, over money, over religion, over ethnicity, over pride or seemingly over nothing at all.
In the enlightened nations of the West today we prefer our slaughter of undesirables to be a little more clinical, more neat and tidy. We still dehumanize the inconvenient to make it easier to murder them, preferring now to turn humans into philosophical abstractions and clinically inoffensive terms.
Have we changed? Have we learned? The evidence would seem to indicate we have not. That we can be bludgeoned with evidence of the depravity of man and the hopelessness of self-improvement is some of the most compelling evidence of the need of every single human being for Christ Jesus. Trying to make men act less like beasts by means of force has proven futile and counter-productive. Trying to make men be something other than horribly cruel by thinking positive thoughts and putting bumper stickers on our cars has likewise been shown to be naive and ineffective.
The response to Auschwitz is preaching the Gospel. The response to Stalin is preaching the Gospel. The response to false prophets sending men on Crusades is preaching the Gospel. The response to Al Qaeda and ISIS and 9/11 is preaching the Gospel. The response to the slaughter of innocents in abortion clinics is preaching the Gospel. The response to racism, to police brutality, to young men killing one another over "disrespect" is preaching the Gospel.
It is foolish to be sure but the hope of fools in the cross of Christ is the only hope for the world.