Editor’s Wrapup: Saving Accounts
When New Yorkers were adjusting to life after 9/11, actor Liev Schreiber wrote an Op-Ed piece in The New York Timesmarveling at the newfound compassion he saw exhibited in the city. Even normally ignored courtesies were being observed. a His observations come to mind as I write this in April, two weeks after a student killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech. As on 9/11, stories of horror mingled with tales of heroism.
Today, when each day brings news of bloodshed and suffering in the world, it is uplifting to read about people who put their own lives on the line for others. (Is that why Heroes, a television show about saving the world, is so popular?)
An exhibit at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust—“Daring to Resist: Jewish Defiance in the Holocaust”—demonstrates through documents and testimonials Jewish heroism under the direst circumstances. “The question is not…Why did Jews fail to mount cohesive and effective resistance to the Nazis? but, rather, How was it possible that so many Jews resisted at all?” notes exhibition curator Yitzchak Mais in the article that begins on page 54.
Dr. Jerome Groopman has saved many lives through his discoveries of treatments for AIDS. He tells Rahel Musleah (page 44) how his experience as a patient charged his perspective with a radical dose of empathy. In “Pay It Forward,” David W. Weiss bears witness to how casting bread upon the waters—literally and figuratively— saved his family in 1938 (page 50). And when the demands of her young Tibetan goddaughter become overwhelming, Genie Zeiger writes in “The Godmother” (page 64), she reminds herself, “If you save one life, you save the world.”
Compassion, whether on a broad or narrow canvas, is a powerful antidote to despair.