Monday, April 20, 2009

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Last night, I watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler. What a testimony to both the depth of human evil and the strength of loving courage. When I went to bed, I lay awake for a long time, thinking about fear, courage, convictions, evil, and propaganda/brainwashing.

Although I see myself as someone who makes choices for good, I don't know that I would have had the courage to do what Irena did--going into the Jewish Ghetto/prison in Warsaw to rescue over 2000 Jews, mostly children. These people where spirited away to live with Polish families or in Catholic convents, given new names, family histories, and learning to recite Christian prayers. Most of these people were never reunited with their families because they all perished in the death camps.

I'm often asked how evil people can do what they do. My answer is always the same. Good people can't wrap their minds around evil actions. No matter how much you attempt to understand someone who is evil, you won't. So don't even bother.  Instead, focus on what you can do to combat darkness, even in little ways, such as smiling at people, contributing to charities, avoiding negative gossip, and encouraging others to be their best selves.

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler is a must-see movie. Buy or rent it and watch it with your teenagers. Use it for family discussions. Some possible discussion topics are:
1. Standing up for what you believe.
2. Risking your life to save another.
3. Being of service to others.
4. Prejudice and intolerance.
5. At the least, walking away to not become involved with hurtful behavior towards others.
6. Coaching ways to be assertive with others.
7. Standing up to bullies.
8. Not going along with the crowd.
9. History lessons.
10. Why WWll should never be forgotten, so the injustices aren't repeated.
11. Forgiveness.
12. Loving your enemies.
13. Finding ways to share with others who have less.

For those who saw the movie... What did you think?

Exercise--teaching a kickboxing class
Nonfiction Reading--A Child Called It, by Dave Pelzer
Fiction Reading--Dragonborn, by Jade Lee
Writing--the next newsletter article
Affirmation--I Act the Courage of My Convictions
Prayer--The Serenity Prayer


  1. Your writing captures all of the same thoughts I had after seeing this show. I watch a lot of the current "crime" dramas on TV that involve catching this week's serial killer. I said to my husband, "Why can institutionalized cruelty and murder be so accepted and yet, if just one person starts doing it on their own we recognize it as evil, a mental defect, one that needs to be stopped?" Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Kate,

    I thought a lot about propaganda and how the Nazis tried to brainwash people. Or people were afraid and looked the other way. Thanks for commenting