Wednesday, June 12 would have been Anne Frank’s 90th birthday. Through her iconic diary, she has become the global symbol of 1.5 million other virtually forgotten innocent Jewish children murdered by Nazi Germany and its willing European collaborators during the Holocaust.
So how would she have updated her diary today? Here are six possibilities:
- Joy at the miraculous rebirth and flourishing of her shattered people in a Jewish democratic state of Israel.
- Anger that the hatred of Jews is surging in her native Europe and beyond and is being deployed by leading left-wing politicians in England and right-wing politicians in Poland.
- Shock that Synagogues and Jewish schools must be protected by armed guards throughout the world. Despair that decades after she and her family were forced into hiding, so many Jews in the 21st Century have to hide their identities in public; not just anywhere but in the streets of European capitals including, Berlin, Paris, and yes, her hometown of Amsterdam. Can history be repeating itself?
- Solidarity with Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, who risked her life to give hope to young girls everywhere to have the right to an education and a future. Sadness that Malala has to live today in England because her life would be in danger again the moment she stepped on the soil of her native Pakistan.
- Disgust that the world, led by the United Nations does so little to protect children from being brainwashed to hate and become martyrs for religious fanatics, from becoming tools for tyrants and human shields for terrorists.
- Cautious optimism and lurking pessimism about the power of the written and spoken word to bring about change through the amazing tool of social media. Anne wrote her original diary in the Secret Annex, having no idea if anyone else would ever read of her innermost thoughts, fears and hopes. Today, social media virally transmits all the good, bad, and ugly, that the human imagination can produce.
Everyone who has read the “Diary of Anne Frank” has their favorite quotations. Which quote would have Anne chosen if she was given the choice of posting one idea on Facebook or Twitter?
We believe that in our morally confused times, Anne would have sent this message to young people who struggle today to make the right choices, who wonder if anything they do could actually make a difference in these dangerous time: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Anne’s birthday is the perfect time to remember that she wrote these words trapped in a reality bereft of freedom, an innocent Jewish teen who watched as the world — her world — collapse around her. That she was able to find the chutzpah to hope, surely each of us is still in a position to take up her challenge and make our world a better place for all — one good deed at a time.