I recently visited the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, where we heard the following story from a Holocaust survivor:
Her and her mother were in hiding, when her mother witnessed a gang of Nazi soldiers attacking four young Jewish boys from the neighborhood.
Her mother's protective instincts kicked in and she ran out of her hiding place, leaving her young daughter behind, jumped into the middle of the blows, and began yelling at the officers to stop beating the boys.
Can you imagine?
The Nazi general, shocked by the audacity of this young woman asked, "Who do you think you are?!"
She responded, "I am a human being."
Something about her response softened him, and he commanded his officers to let them all go. She told him about her life, and her daughter, and at least for a moment, it seemed as if she had broken through to him.
She had. Because that same general ended up protecting the woman from future attacks, and she and her daughter miraculously survived the war.
While the Holocaust was unquestionably one of the most horrific periods in human history, within that narrative, I also marvel at the countless stories like this young woman's--stories focusing not just on the atrocities, but also on the unimaginable moments of courage, bravery, resilience, and hope.
Her story reminded me that we have an inherent duty to help those who can't help themselves. And that no matter how circumstances appear, we are all human beings.