What Separates Us

Today was a slow day and it wasn’t until this evening that I got to the last of my email reminders for blogs I follow. It was for Derrick Knight, a retired lad in England, who delightfully chronicles his adventures in the garden the Head Gardener (Jackie, Mrs Knight) kindly lets him meander through whilst doing a few gardening-ish chores. Derrick is a lover of books, and the New Forest, and the seaside, and his comestibles.

In his latest post he talks about Dirk Bogarde, a British actor, and his writing.

I always liked him as an actor, (Dirk, not Derrick) so I tootled off to read up about him via that wonderful resource portal, Wikipedia.

Turns out that Dirk was among the Allied officers who went into Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April of 1945. Please read what he wrote. It’s important. (just click on the green link)

Did you read it through? Did you look at the photographs? Were you horrified, sickened? Did you think to yourself, that could never happen now, here?

Truth is, humans have been doing this to other humans for thousands of years.

Do you know what the difference is between you and I, and them?



They were, and are, (because humans have never really stopped brutally torturing and murdering each other somewhere on the planet)  just like you and I. Assorted limbs, a functioning brain, carrying all sorts of wounds, physical and metaphysical, each with our own little bubbles of concerns that can make a day shine or feel like a milestone around our necks … and yet, some of us commit horrendous acts of brutality, and some of us do not.

Do you know what separates us?

Choice. That’s all.

When you strip away the dogma, political, religious, whatever,  all we’re left with is, Choice.

Whether it’s a choice about a moral ambiguity or to become another a butcher of humans, it’s exactly the same choice. A step this way, a step that way. Some choices involve major amounts of suckitude, but they’re still choices. 

As I pondered on the choices I’ve made in my life, the good, the bad, the ugly … the really bad … and the beautiful, I heard in my head a phrase from a song by Bette Midler, about ‘hollow, ancient eyes’, I dug out my collection of Bette albums and listened to the song in question … and it seemed to me that it’s a song about how we can find hope in our choices.


35 comments on “What Separates Us

  1. Many thanks for the links – The father of a friend of mine was one of the first in there, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Widdershins. That was hard to read, but we need to be reminded. We need to remember that it can happen again, and, sadly, we seem to be on that trajectory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Olga Godim says:

    Great post. Yes, we have to remember. But we have to remember too that the choice most of those murderers made was between life and death. If they didn’t obey their orders and shoot the prisoners they would have been put in the same camp as prisoners themselves. Or killed outright. Not all of the Germans were evil. Not even most. But the entire country, with very few exceptions, participated in that horrid war on the side of evil. And most of them just wanted to survive, so they followed the majority and their leaders.
    I’ve met a few young Germans in recent years. Even now, generations later, they feel guilty for what their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did during WWII. But if they or us face the same choice today: kill or be killed, would many of us act differently? Would we choose death and suffering over compliance and conformity? Do we have the courage to make the right choice?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Collectively, we are a sad species, for sure. I often think of a line from ‘Oh, God!’ starring George Burns as God, where he states, “I only made one mistake… Man.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was in high school, I had English teachers who showed us films of concentration camps. I felt the same way watching them as I read Bogarde’s recollections. I don’t know if that was a common thing for English teachers to do all over California, the U.S., the world. I don’t recall ever discussing the films in class, the horror and inhumanity stays with me. People know what’s right and wrong, but still there are those who don’t care.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. TanGental says:

    I’m perpetually optimistic. We are capable of anything on the good-evil spectrum and still we confound notions of civilisation but for all the well highlighted wickedness we still see I tend to see a world with less strife less war less suffering. Overall the better angels outdo those who aren’t. Focus fr’instance on the fact that it is on Africa that childhood mortality has dropped dramatically in the last several years with better medicine less civil strife more stable governments than say just on the tragedies of Syria or the Rohinga. The bigger better pictures don’t get reported. Choice indeed but gradually taken overall we are making better choices. After all for all media ‘if it bleeds, it leads. Good news isn’t news.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I can’t imagine seeing what Dirk saw during the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. And it worries me that you are right about mankind – we are the most brutal species on the planet with a capacity for evil that is not only astonishing but self-destructive. What is happening in the US is frightening and reminiscent of pre-WWII Germany. It’s horrifying.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. dgkaye says:

    Powerful post. A great reminder to never forget the evil that man can do. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  9. willowdot21 says:

    I can’t believe while I was reading this while my husband was watching a program about the Romans and the blood thirsty “games” at the Colosseum… We have not approved at all. I just dispare.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Suzanne says:

    I missed this post while I was ill. I like the actor Dirk Bogarde too but had no idea he’d been in Belsen. Sorry I couldn’t bring myself to look at the photos. Both my parents were haunted by the war and about what the soldiers saw when they got to the concentration camps. I was raised on stories and sometimes images from this time. I know what they are but feel too fragile to revisit them now.
    I think you are right when you say it is choice that separates us. More and more I am feeling the necessity to make choices about where I let my thoughts go. Seems to me that more I focus on ill health etc the worse I feel and the more I focus on healing, the more I begin to feel that energy growing within me. This is just one example.
    I used to follow Derick’s blog and he followed mine back when I had a different blog. I lost track of him on the move to the new blog. I’ll track him down now. Thanks for reminding me of his blog – I used to enjoy it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Widdershins says:

      Glad I was able to help you reconnect with Derrick. 🙂 … his posts are a wonderful ‘slice of life’. 🙂

      I know what you mean about the pictures. It’s been quite a few decades since I truly understood what happened at such places and I still am chilled to my core by it … and by the fact that in other places around the world, perhaps on a smaller scale, it’s been non-stop.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Suzanne says:

        Yes, these are very intense times. I watched a show on NITV (the indigenous TV Station) last night. The Mayan people alive now see this time as the great cleansing before the New Earth can begin.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. selizabryangmailcom says:

    An evolutionary train of thought says that all our problems started when we stood upright. Lower back pain, for one. In a bigger sense, the brain evolving, becoming what it is. Sometimes I think gaining self-awareness and a sense of our own mortality drove us kinda crazy, and we’ve been wrestling with sanity/insanity ever since. It does feel like insanity wins out a lot more. And what was the point of evolving, exactly, if it’s still so simple to revert to our baser natures in the blink of an eye? After all this time, you’d think it would much, much, much more difficult. But it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Widdershins says:

      Hi there … welcome to my little corner of the interwebz 😀 . . .that’s a very interesting concept … I think we haven’t been able to evolve, at least socially, since for whatever reasons, patriarchy became the ruling model, which, if you’re looking for a definition of insanity, that’s it right there.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Hi! Thanks for the welcome! I probably should have said hi above, huh?

    Yeah, the patriarchy……when did it take hold, when the Abrahamic religions were born and took over?

    It appears that early Egypt was a matriarchy, more or less. And it lasted thousands of years. So they must’ve been doing something right, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Oh, yeah, it TOTALLY depends on who you read. The traditional academician doesn’t want to get into all of that

    Liked by 1 person

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