There are so many times that I complain about one thing or another. I think it is probably natural, we all have bad days. When I think things are bad I try to remind myself that others have it worse, but in the moment it is difficult to often have that perspective. Then it seems that I am reminded by someone else's personal story about just how lucky I really am.
I had the honor of meeting Thomas Buergenthal in June. Many people probably don't know who he is, but he was a Judge on the International Court of Justice. He obviously had a very successful legal career being a world renown international lawyer, but what he overcame to get to that place is what is really amazing.
What is so unique about Thomas Buergenthal is that he was a child, only 10 years old, when he survived Auschwitz. He spent his childhood in concentration camps. Before the beginning of World War II his mother had gone to a fortune teller. The woman told his mother that she had a son and that he was a "lucky child." That information kept hope alive in his mother after they were separated and it motivated her to search far and wide until she found her son and reunited with him after the war.
But how did a child survive? During a selection process he approached a guard and informed the guard that he could work. After this statement he was spared and permitted to work. Was it all luck? There are so many other examples that he shared of occasions where his life was spared and he was left to wonder if it was from his quick thinking, his resolve, or was he just simply lucky.
I received his memoir as a gift from my Aunt after meeting him. I hadn't taken the time to read it though until this week and so much of it is on my mind. I'm blown away by the courage and strength a child possessed, but also heartbroken by all the tragedies so many faced.
He encouraged us law students to pursue a career in law and practice in an area where we have passion. To remember our moral compass and to strive to make a difference.
He even signed the book my Aunt got me wishing me the best of luck "saving the world"
Now I may not be saving the world or anything, but I do hope (as do many I'm sure) that I will be able to make a difference in someone's life at some point.
I know this post is a little different from my norm, but I feel like I get so down about little things and I needed this reality check. People have been through MUCH worse and have come out the other side and done absolutely remarkable things. Thomas Buergenthal survived and went on to spend his life fighting genocide around the world, absolutely amazing.
If I am ever going through a difficult time I hope I can remember the wisdom from his memoir and from the information he shared in his speech. No matter how bad life gets, it is possible to survive. Not only survive, but to do something remarkable.
If you have any interest in history or like memoirs or even you are just looking to be inspired, I highly recommend this memoir.