We went to Dachau today to visit the concentration camp. This was the first concentration camp, and it was a model for all of the others. I don't think I have any words to describe the emotions that I felt. Time and again I just felt sick to my stomach. Reading about the Holocaust is one thing, but being amidst a place where so many atrocities were committed was completely different. At the camp it was mostly all foreign tourists. I get the very strong sense that Germans do not want to visit, and that they have a complex and confusing history with this tragedy.
Since working on institutional and cultural change, I've become strongly convinced that it is mostly systems that make people who they are. From that perspective, most of the people who helped commit these mass murders are not so different from the average person on the street. Believing that, it just makes me ask - what kind of system makes such people? Is it really so so different from the system we live in now? What of the systematic racism and daily brutality against people of color? There's no point in trying to compare horrible things, but it just makes me wonder how far we've really come.
As much as systems make most people, I do believe in the power of a dedicated few who really want to make a change. Can we be that change?