We Take Too Much For Granted

by Haily Mae Dunn, , November 5, 2010

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I had the opportunity this week to listen to the story of Marion Blumenthal Lazan. She was a survivor of the Holocaust during World War II. Marion was one of the millions of people taken to concentration camps to be tortured, beaten, and misused. She was four-years old when she began hearing about what was happening, and before she knew it, she and her family were taken off to the first of four camps they would live in. Marion was ten years old when she and her family were liberated.

She considered herself lucky because she and her family had survived, although her father died of typhus only weeks after they were liberated. She told the stories of horror of what she and her family had to overcome to survive.

I consider myself a student of Holocaust history, so I was delighted to hear Marion would be visiting our campus. As Marion stated in her talk, we are the last generation who will hear these stories first-hand, and I feel lucky to be able to speak to those who went through such devastating times, but came out on top. It saddens me to know that soon there will be no one left who experienced the Holocaust first hand, and I find it one of my duties to carry on these stories, this reality.

To address my main point though, in her speech, Marion discussed one thing that still sticks out to me. I have thought about this for the past few days and cannot get it off my mind. Marion said that while she was in the camps, she was a prisoner, not only of the Nazis but of the world. There was no grass, no trees, no leaves, no rivers. Nothing. She was sheltered in her young adult life of seeing all of the beautiful things around her. The things we see every day, the things we take for granted, she did not see for six years. She promised herself that when she got out, there were three things she would not take for granted ever again, the three B's: bed, bath, and bread.

When someone puts this into perspective to you, it is almost like a slap in the face. You think to yourself, what would it be like without grass or trees? What would it be like to have to share a straw mattress with someone you didn't even know? What would it be like to have but a shower a month, never knowing if you were going to have water come down on you, or deadly gas? The things that we take so for granted are the very things that Marion and her family, and millions of other Jews did not have for years.

How long has it been since you have stepped outside and felt the grass between your toes? How long has it been since you just lay on the ground as the fresh smells of spring surrounded you? I won't speak for everyone, but those are the things that I seldom feel I have time for. It makes me mad to think that I don't stop and look around, and really SEE the things that God has given me. Our lives have become so busy and engulfed with school work, housework, cooking, cleaning, being mad at people; we don't stop and see the good. We don't take that extra half hour to hold life in the palm of our hand. Has the world gotten so complicated that we can't do that for ourselves anymore? Has technology come so far that we have to sit on our computers at all hours of the day or use our Blackberries to make "important" phone calls? Where are we? Are we even here anymore? Or is it simply our spirits floating around us telling us to take more time to look at the small things.

Marion gave a powerful message. She was not lecturing on taking the little things more seriously. She simply stated that she didn't have these things, and it seemed to strike a nerve with me. I think it is time to wake up and really live our lives. It has been said before that just because we are living, doesn't men we are alive. After what Marion went though, as well as millions of others, after we have heard the stories and watched documentaries, is it really so impossible to start living our lives?

What if tomorrow was the end? What if we were ripped away from our homes and confined to quarters in which we were not allowed to leave? This is what Marion and her family faced on a daily basis, and somehow they found it in themselves to carry on. If someone that went through Hell and back can live to talk about it, I feel like we need to honor them by taking time out of our own day to really treasure what we have. It is time to stop taking those "little things" for granted because when all is said and done, what else is there?

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