Reading a novel about Berlin, 1939, and the shadow of hatred darkening the landscape of the nation, draping everyone in a curtain of fear and suspicion, with the doors and windows of life slowly closing on the Jew, and being locked.
The author, Jane Thynne, The Pursuit of Pearls, captures the insanity of it all - the plodding, determined, logical, reasonable insanity of the Nazis to refine the race and purify the nation, ridding themselves of anyone and everything that stained their collective sense of racial greatness.
It occurred to me, while reading, all the lost talent ... not that life and people is all about talent, as if human beings were simply a commodity to be traded upon.
But talent it is of which I'm thinking - the artist and the poet, the physician and the philosopher, the seamstress and the jeweler, the chef and the athlete, the writer and the musician, the comedian and the architect, and so much more - all of it lost to the ages, because of some insane desire to protect the nation from impurity.
In the hideous gas chambers of Hitler's regime, what inestimable treasure was lost - the children who once knew laughter, the families and the Sunday afternoon outing at the park, the books that now would never be written, the songs never sung, the ideas never born, the love never given and received.
I think of our times now, and those who so "reasonably" fear the "immigrant" - that catchall phrase that gathers up all the anger and fear of a nation undergoing tremendous demographic change, because of the Statue of Liberty guarding the New York Harbor. Welcome, it says, welcome to a land of hope and opportunity, a land wherein all have a chance to achieve their best intentions and realize their abilities to make this a better world.
And now, some would take millions of people and send them packing. These red-faced, pinch-eyed, politicians would gladly break up families, condemning children to endless terror and their parents to untold sorrow.
Who are these politicians that speak so harshly, and sound, at least to their eager fans, so reasonable, so logical, so patriotic?
And what will be our loss, if I may put it in computable terms?
The books that remain to be written ... the science that remains to be enlarged ... the thoughts and talents of millions that will enrich our nation, flavor our culture, energize our economy, adding depth and delight to our future.
These mean-spirited politicians drag out statistics to prove that our immigrants are terrible people, and there are those who are more than happy to denounce the immigrant as a job-stealer, a rapist, and a drug-dealer.
Sounds to me too much like Nazi Germany - the vilification of the Jew, the Gypsy and the Slav - all of them, and more, undesirable.
Well, what's gained in all of this?
As the Nazis found in the rubble of Berlin, nothing is gained, and the losses are unimaginably huge.
Those who would live in nation with windows and doors sealed shut will soon run out of fresh air, and lo and behold will quickly discover that all the "bad" things imagined or real about the immigrant are painfully present in those ensconced in their version of racial purity and national pride. That which they fear in the "other," is present within their own soul and mind, and thus there will never be peace, within or without.
And the loss is unimaginable.