Jan Karski died in 2000, leaving no immediate family behind. But with his eyewitness account, his recorded words, and his towering example of courage, conviction, and compassion, his life story offers a ray of hope for humankind.
Pope Francis in his first crucial year has exhibited a degree of humility that has given hope to masses and challenged the orthodoxy of a comfortably numb establishment.
We are mistaken when we try to make this a story of the past. No matter how much we wish it wasn't true, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and domestic terrorism are all realities in modern America. This is precisely why visiting the Holocaust Museum has meant so much to me.
Undeniably, in the last 20 or so years, some -- but hardly enough -- efforts have been made in Hungary to look into the past and acknowledge the facts: the Hungarian Holocaust was the result of long years of anti-Semitic and discriminatory policies.
This past week saw the twentieth anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide that took the lives of nearly one million Tutsis between April and June, 1994.
Burma seemed to be on the verge of rising up. Now it seems to be in a race to the bottom for denying basic human rights and for maintaining a regime of silence on such a front.
As we remember the Rwandan genocide of 20 years ago, my hope is that we will look next door to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the everyday emergency that is bringing a people to its knees.
On Yom HaShoah, we remember the Jews killed in the Holocaust. Also on my mind will be a little town in Lithuania, and a white-haired man searching for a way to pay his respects to the dead.
Billions of the poorest people throughout the developing world know in a terrible and personal way the same truth the Rwanda genocide taught me: Violence has the power to destroy everything -- and is unstopped by our other responses to poverty.
The world is marking the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide with events, statements and speeches. But I have a better idea. Let's act.
There is much still to learn and understand about how and why the genocide happened -- to prevent future genocides. But one thing was clear today: Rwandans are proud of thinking big -- and they should be.
Forgiving doesn't mean loving or hugging the one who was once hunting you down and trying to exterminate your "people." It is, rather, learning how to live in peace with him again.
Rwanda had to create something virtually unique in Africa: government that was corruption-free, a plan to turn away foreign aid as soon as possible, and a reliance on business standards to encourage competition and efficiency.
They are 5,250 miles apart, one in Asia, the other in Africa. But in each, huge piles of human skulls bear mute witness to the genocidal horrors of the last quarter of the 20th century when the world should already have learned better from the enormity of the Nazi Holocaust. Once the Chao Ponhea Yat High School, Pol Pot turned it into Security Prison 21 (S-21), where of the nearly 20,000 who passed through its satanic doors only a dozen survived. It was just one of scores of such hellholes where prisoners were beaten, tortured with electric shocks, burned with searing hot metal and water-boarded among other torments.
After the genocide was over, I did not return to Rwanda for 18 years, but I have always kept an eye on what was happening from afar. Once you have been part of a seismic event in a country's history, you always feel connected.
When asked about his childhood, Jean Bosco Ngwabije, 33, remembers two things -- fighting and running.