The Religion of Humanity

I believe in the religion of humanity.”

                                                 —Mila Messner, Holocaust Survivor

Several years ago our school was studying religion. We focused at length on the Holocaust and we visited the Holocaust Museum in Montreal. In the exhibit we saw the words of many Jews who spoke about how religious faith had sustained them during the horrors of the Holocaust. Faith had been a solace, a sustaining structure, something to hold on to and believe in.

After touring the exhibit, we gathered to hear a survivor speak. Her name was Mila Messner. She was about 85 years old. She told us how she had been on a train to a concentration with her parents and sister. Mila and her sister had a chance to jump off the train, but their parents refused. They jumped off and her sister broke her leg. They were captured, but a German soldier took a liking to Mila’s sister, and gave them a job, which granted protection. They survived the war thanks to that gesture.

One of our teachers asked if her Jewish faith had been a sustaining power during her ordeal.

“No,” she said. “I stopped believing in God.”

“Then what do you believe?”

“I believe in the religion of humanity.”

All of us in the room sat in complete silence. She seemed to be speaking of another force, available to us all, at our very fingertips. Her belief is in humans helping humans. We all have within us the potential to love and treat each other as brothers and sisters. Such human love transcends borders and battle-lines. It reaches over walls; it obliterates the notion of the “other,” of tribal diffenrences, of hatred and vengeance.

All of us on this one earth together. Our greatest act might be to become devotees of the religion of humanity.


Author: talbirdsey

I am writing a postcard to the President everyday.

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