Thursday, November 21, 2013

God within each other

One of the things I've struggled with this semester and since returning from El Salvador is where God can be found within immense suffering. People can suffer in many ways, of course, but I'm specifically thinking about the collective suffering of some type of group persecution. When people are surrounded by such devastating human-inflictde suffering, it's possible to lose faith that anything good is left in the world. What went so horribly wrong? Who is to blame? Where is justice?

But the question of where is justice should not be indiscriminately tied to the question of what is justice, I am just beginning to come to terms with. I think this discussion of justice's origins, practicality and potential is what has stood out to me most in this class.

Maus II shows more of the relationship between Art and his father Vladek that I expected, and I appreciated the conversation of how someone is supposed to handle the guilt of not having to realize something that is so central to the life of someone you're close with. It's certainly an invitation for empathy, but it's also noteworthy on a cultural and systemic basis. How do societies decide what features of their story become part of their history? Who has a right to tell these stories within the culture?

While Maus II seems to add to the questions in a lot of ways, I think it also surprises us with some comfort in knowing that wherever people are looking out for each other as much as they're capable of, justice is being served and God is being made manifest. When Vladek brings back fitting shoes for his friend Mandelbaum, God is alive in the Jewish people. It's amazing to me that amid mass-scale suffering like the Holocaust, so many people were able to see these limited moments of grace as a sign of God's presence; I wonder if now when things are better for everyone if we will notice God's work more often in our lives.

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