“Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) Where are you, o man? What have you come to? In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: “Adam, where are you?”
– Pope Francis, Yad Vashem Memorial, May 26, 2014
This biblical question repeated by Pope Francis in his address at the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem echoed through my mind this past week for three different reasons. But there was a thread of similarity of unspeakable injustice and horror.
Last Friday, I listened to the story of a young man who escaped from the mass murder in Rwanda. (800,000 men, women and children in Rwanda were murdered in 1994 in clashes between ethnic Tutsi and Hutu tribes.) On Wednesday, in preparation for a reunion with student travelers, I viewed my photographs from a recent study abroad trip which included visiting the death camp of Auschwitz. (The Jewish population of Europe in 1933 was over nine million people and by 1943, 75% of the Jews had been murdered.) Then for days, I have sat watching the hundreds of thousands of Syrian men, women and children refugees seeking safety from war and violence, living in constant fear, without food and water and facing increasing hostility from several nearby countries and indifference from other countries.
In one week, I have been brought face to face with three atrocities which are only a glimpse of the genocide and inhumanity that exists in the past and present. Pope Francis asks that God remember us in His mercy and cries out “never again, Lord, never again.” During this week when Pope Francis visits the United States, l will listen with deep resolve to his message and his words of advocacy. I must determine my own actions and personal responses to answer “where I am.”