I, like most people, had read Anne Frank’s diary at some point in my life. It has been some time since I have read the book but I do remember it very well. One thing that I was immediately struck with, apparently like her father, was how deeply profound and expansive her writing was. Not only as an individual in general, but as a very young girl. I think the first time I read the book it did not seem real to me. I was but about 10 years old. I remember being fascinated by the story, but at that juncture in my life, it was just that, a story. I read the book again as a school requirement. I believe I was about 14 or 15 years of age. Then, I had more knowledge about the goings on of Europe in the 30’s and 40’s. Still, looking back on it, I do not think I could comprehend what was happening to Anne and millions of others.
As we arrived at the house, it was unremarkable from the outside. As we entered, it seemed like any other tourist attraction. People were being loud, boisterous, and the like. This and that were being offered for sale and there was a line stringing out the door for what seemed like forever going down the block. After a short delay, we were advised that we could enter.
One left turn from the shop, if you will, and I had arrived to a place 70 years ago. From the old flooring to the walls, I had just traveled in time. I looked up on the wall and the first thing I remember seeing was a quote. I believe it was “[i]n spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” I think that if that was all I had seen, that would be enough. I was immediately moved beyond anything that words could begin to describe. What a brave soul. What a tremendous person it takes to see the hope, the best in people, despite the horrendous circumstances. To me, it seems as if Anne was put in this position to do this one thing, to write; to convey to the world that we are better than this. We are better than the atrocities that are occurring around the world at any given time. We are better than to succumb to simplistic egotistical impulses. We are better than persecuting others. We are better than hurting others based upon fear and paranoia. We are better than we could ever imagine and we should not give in to an idea because it is easy, because it is convenient, or because it is what everyone is doing, but we, as individuals can and should triumph in doing what is right.
Anne symbolizes all that is great in this world; all that is great in not only us as humans, but also what we are capable of doing as a single individual. Yet, no matter what seems to be going on, how hard things are, how bad life seems, we will always have the same ultimate goal and an invisible thread will continually intertwine all of our stories together. Anne so eloquently captured this in that “[w]e all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.” All it takes is one left turn to see it.