Scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day, I came across this picture posted by the History in Pictures account. It’s a box of wedding rings found by liberators at a concentration camp in 1945. Each ring belonged to a person, and each person disappeared into the camps. There is horror in the everyday when it comes to the Holocaust. At Auschwitz, there is a room of 25,000 shoes—a day’s worth of those “processed.” 

It’s hard to fathom the magnitude of this atrocity, even this far out from it. It’s as if this moment in history is so large, so depraved, so vile that I cannot shield my soul from its evil. I still remember the moment I truly became aware of the reality of the Holocaust. At 14, I watched a real, unvarnished documentary on it for the first time. I can’t remember the name of it, or what channel it was on, but even as an angry, cynical, self-destructive teenager, the sight emaciated bodies piled on top of each other like refuse in a hastily dug grave destroyed me. The stories of survivors annihilated me. The weight of that evil is soul-crushing, even in a world as full of casual acts of hate and destruction as ours. 

It’s hard, after spending time looking at images like these, to 

get worked up about tax bills or Donald Trump’s latest stop at McDonald’s. The Western world and its outrages seem so inconsequential, don’t they?

Which isn’t to say that we haven’t got enough death and destruction in our world: Rwanda, Sudan, Bosnia, Sinjar. To name only a few. People visiting evil upon their fellow man, having successfully reduced them to nothing more than animals in their minds to justify the brutality.

These things don’t happen in a vacuum, and there is no such thing as “good” collectivism. As the author Quent Cordair notes on Twitter:
Individualism is the only answer, the only protection against collectivism of every stripe. Where the collective good is held to be the greater good, where the sacrifice of the one is deemed morally justifiable, the sacrifice of the many will follow.
I really couldn’t say it better. I’ve been concerned by the lurch toward European style collectivism from the Left for at least a decade now. Determined not to learn anything from Europe’s mistakes, half the country is clamoring for undiluted socialism. Free stuff. Free money. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Although it’s framed as compassion, history has shown us how easy it is to slide into the justification of any horror for the “greater good.” 

Guarding against collectivism means studying history, even the uncomfortable parts. It means embracing individualism and not apologizing for it. It means learning to adult, at the very least. 

Good luck to us. 


  1. I'll always be right there along side you where it concerns opposing collectivism.


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