“Before a race, we store up spirit.”
—American Track and Field Gold medalist
When one nation indivisible is a pipe dream and liberty for all seems like it never existed, one may feel neck deep in the swamps of sadness. An overwhelming sense of hopelessness sets in. For some, it is debilitating. We must not, however, let these overwhelming feelings steal our stamina and joy. We are certainly living in uncertain times, but in spite of it all the truth is becoming a driving force in many people’s lives. There is a hunger to resolve conflict, to make amends and make sense of the chaos. We long to find our way back to homeostasis and be free of the worries that have been perpetuated by our unstable environment.
I have been tired this week. I let some days pass as I took time to gather my sensibilities. Andreas and I spoke several times this week, and I felt better. I asked him several questions that were obscure to me, questions that arose from Holocaust groups on Facebook: “What’s a Zionest?” “Why is there tension with Palestine?” “What proof do Holocaust deniers claim?”
His peaceful demeanor brought me resolution rooted in compassionate understanding, and after our conversations I came to the realization that I don’t need all the answers. I need only to keep faith. I need to return to the familiarity of myself and my core values, and remember the things that bring me joy. When we become the victim or the oppressed, we give away our power. It is in our best interest to preserve energy and begin to align with our fellow citizens. Walt Whitman reminds us that “whatever satisfies the soul is truth”. That maxim is our motivation, the polls in November are our weapon.
Do not be dismayed. United we stand, and divided we fall. Source reliable news reporting and check facts, read books, get educated. Above all, though, take care of yourself. Remember joy, and laughter, and wonder. The Earth is supporting you on the journey to whole heart, mind, and body wellness. Fortify. It’s going to be a long process of sorting all the messes we are in--globally, in the United States and in other nations rapt with conflict, but we can do it.
And we will.
There are some acts of rage in this waking life that are so diabolical that it is incomprehensible they occur. From the beginning of time, history is full of these stories, and now, sadly, it seems that hate rears its ugly head again. On May 20, 2018, Thessaloniki mayor Yannis Boutaris, who is widely known for his multiculturism, humanitarianism, and liberal leanings, was brutally attacked at a remembrance ceremony which marked the killing of ethnic Greeks by Turks in World War I. “It was a nightmare. There were several people that attacked me. They were hitting me everywhere,” he told one reporter. Boutaris was hospitalized overnight.
The extremist nationalist party Golden Dawn in Greece and others across the world are organizing, energized by Donald Trump’s election in 2017, and strategically advancing on liberal policymakers. Anti-Islamic rhetoric eerily echoes the epidemiological bombast of Hitler’s regime. Although each generation brings with it a new set of ideologies, the persistent themes that are the cornerstone to these violent protests and senseless beatings have remained the same: hate, power, misunderstanding, close-mindedness, and fear. Men have died on the battlefields. Families have suffered through atrocities. Children have grown up without parents, and all the while the world spins madly on in fervent protest to these war games of hate and violence.
There is a growing polarity between those who understand the moral repercussions of such acts of violence as the beating of Yannis Boutaris, whose eyes beam with love and compassion, and those who don’t. The ones who don’t grow bolder in their hate rhetoric. As this nightmare unfolds, we can only stand bravely with our eyes and hearts open to face this waking reality with deep understanding of the human condition and benevolence in our hearts. As we do this, we will feel that still, small voice beckoning us toward a certain action in our own sort of protest to evil. We will find our place among it all, serving in love, and ultimately morality will prevail. We will no longer be in hiding, lost somewhere in a nightmare, but we will emerge as beams of hope to a senseless world riddled with pervasive darkness.
The world is at times harsh and uninviting. It is imperative and wise to find a source of comfort in the genuine connection we cultivate with one another by the telling of our stories. Stories like “600 Days in Hiding” ground us in the present by connecting us to the past and to each other.
I met Andreas Algava as if guided by a timely Force, and I quickly became aware that his story of harrowing survival in a time not so politically different from today must be heard. My name is Hannah White. I am not Jewish. I have never survived a genocide nor have I had to survive in hiding from a crazed mass-murderer hell-bent on destroying an entire people. Instead, I spent my younger days among the trees and flowers of a small, conservatively Christian, southern town on the river in the Ozark Mountains. Every experience has shaped me, as yours have shaped you, and now I arrive with humility and honor to assist in the telling of his story.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently reminds us, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” So, as America enters a time of political unrest, and the dark corners of the world become emboldened by deranged and hate-laden ideologies, it is with great pleasure that Andreas Algava, myself and those close to him help tell stories that will empower us toward compassion and a greater understanding of our own journey outward and inward. This world is better because we exist. It is our collective stories of perseverance, triumph and hope that can make the change humanity needs so desperately.
Please join us on this incredible journey as this blog of sharing unfurls. Your story is important. You are important. It is our time to rise up and shine.