[dropcap]O[/dropcap]puszczam Koreę myśląc o Polsce. Inny kontynent, inna kultura, a ile zbieżności: setki lat grabionej niepodległości w chińsko-japońskich kleszczach, wyzwolenie z komunistycznej agresji, pół wieku modernizacji ekonomii i uczenia się demokracji, ruchoma scena polityczna, na której prawica z tendencjami dyktatorskimi wymienia się z liberalna lewica, coraz wyraźniej kształtujące się laickie społeczeństwo obywatelskie.
Ostatniego koreańskiego wieczoru, w audytorium Chadwick International, odbywa się pokaz mojego filmu “Nigdy nie zapomnij kłamać”. Zapowiadając go, nasza córka Anya, która w tej szkole koordynuje międzynarodowym curriculum, mówi uczniom o zagrożeniach dzisiejszego świata.
73 years ago, a young mother took her 5 years old son to a square, hung a sign around his neck claiming he was an orphan and left him. Her husband was on a train on his way to a concentration camp, she lived in a guarded and walled ghetto and she was alone. She hid around the corner and watched as her only child cried for his mother. There was nothing she could do. She knew then that that might be the last time she ever saw her child again. That child was my father.
Fast forward 65 years and another young mother watched as her almost 5 year old son, ran around in a park. It suddenly hit her with so much raw emotion. At that point, I turned to my father with my eyes already welling up with tears at the thought of anything happening to my own son and said how I simply could not imagine how hard it was for his mother , my grandmother, to have survived abandoning her child. My heart ached just thinking about it. How could she have left you all alone crying in a square , I asked ? It must have torn her heart into pieces to see her child suffering so much. He looked at me and thought for a long time. He told me no o ne had ever really asked him how his mother must have felt during this time . For years everyone wanted to know his story. What his memories of such a traumatic time were. He thought for a while then turned to me and simply said “Survival. She had no choice. “
I grew up, like many of you, safe in an environment where I thankfully never had to make a choice like that. My family have never been in danger and I have never been forced to make a decision so heart wrenching like my grandmother did on that day. We do however live in a world of uncertainly. A world of prejudice where people are still mistreated, enslaved and segregated. A world in which people are persecuted because of the color of their skin, the country they are from or the religion they follow. A world in which young families have no choice but leave their only home and friends and all of their worldly possessions behind for the uncertainty of seeking asylum in a country who’s government is not as oppressive as their own . A world in which there are places where women still do not have the right to vote or a world in which a normal night out in Paris or casual stroll around a park in Beirut could end in total devastation.
This is our reality. Though I and most of us in this room, never had to experience the hardships or make the difficult choices my grandmother did there are others who still do. It’s still happening. Despite this, this is not a speech about oppression. It’s not meant to scare us or make us worry about our safety. Nor is it meant to be a sad and bleak account of our future. It’s actually something quite different entirely.
When I was asked to introduce my father tonight I struggled with what I would say. Do I share his many accomplishments and accolades or do I open with some funny anecdote about how growing up with a film director as a father meant you never had any privacy. Arguments were stopped mid sentence so that there’d be time to capture it o n film because you never knew when the footage would come in handy. Or even talk about how my dad, on my wedding day, stood at the alter with me and my new husband in a touching family ceremony whispering in his mic for his camera man to not forget to get a few more wide angle shots of the ceremony.
But in the end I thought , what is the message I really wanted to share. I am a wife, sister, daughter and mother and am very proud and privileged to be those things but in addition to all those wonderful thing I am also an educator . This is calling I deeply love and for which I am truly grateful to have been given so many opportunities to help guide, support and shape our young people into kind, respectful and knowledgable citizens of the world. So it’s actually to you students tonight that I speak.
This film that you are about to watch , it’s actually not about my father’ s life or even about the holocaust . T his film is a message to you. It’s a message to learn from the past, to educate yourselves about the present and to prepare for your future. It’s your world now . T his war story is your story now. It belongs to you. Make smart choices, consider others’ perspectives and be good people.
Last night at dinner when we were talking about the questions my father always gets asked at these events, he lamented the fact that the worst question he always gets asked is ‘ Do you hate Germans now ?’ Without even a pause his answer has always been and continues to be no. H e has no room in his heart nor energy for hate. ” We must never ever perpetuate hate ,” he said, ” the only thing we must perpetuate is love. “
So, in the end , to all of you young people here tonight , that is the message that I want to share with you.