If you've ever seen any color footage of WWII or the Concentration Camps, chances are, you're familiar with the work of director George Stevens. He was sent to Germany to record many of the hauntingly gruesome images that will forever impress the world of what happened over there.
Undoubtedly, the images of mass graves and starving prisoners took their toll on Stevens. When he returned, he said this of his experience:
"When a poor man, hungry and unseeing because his eyesight is failing, grabs me and starts begging, I feel the Nazi, because I abhor him, I want him to keep his hands off me. And the reason I want him to keep his hands off me is because I see myself capable of arrogance and brutality to keep him off me. That's a fierce thing, to discover within yourself that which you despise the most in others."
Can the Nazi be within all of us? Surely not, right?
How disgusted do you get when you're riding the subway and the stench of urine and fecal matter sweeps through the car? You look and see a homeless junkie lying in a heap at the end of the car. The stench is deplorable.
I can honestly say that happened to me so many times, that I eventually got fed up with it. I didn't feel sorry for them anymore. I didn't want to help them out, I just wanted to get away. I wished they all disappeared.
If we had been alive during slavery in the U.S., would we be pro or anti? Would we own a few slaves ourselves? Today we answer no, but can we say what we really would have done?
To think we are capable of "arrogance and brutality" is disturbing. It doesn't feel good to be equated with the monsters that were responsible for the horrors of WWII. And yet it is in every one of us.