Fleet Maull Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat - Oswiecim, Poland - Fleet Maull

Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat – Oswiecim, Poland

05 Nov 2018 - 09 Nov 2018 | 05:00 pm - 04:00 pm
Place : Oswiecim, Poland
Map Unavailable

Date(s) - 05/11/2018 - 09/11/2018
5:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat

Monday, November 5 – Friday, November 9, 2018

in Oswiecim, Poland

In November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell down. It had stood for 28 years and 88 days, separating families, suppressing free movement by free people through the use of bricks, armed soldiers, and watchtowers.

November 2018 will mark 29 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. During this time 54 new walls and border fences have been built. The United States government stubbornly plans to build a wall separating it from its southern neighbor, Mexico.

In November 5-9, 2018 the Zen Peacemakers will return to bear witness at the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. We’ll once again feel the razor wire fences of imprisonment, gather in barracks that once squeezed humans tighter than cattle, and pray by those deep rectangles in the ground that killed people because they were different on account of religion, country, ethnicity, and sexual preference. Or just because. Because we continue to have scapegoats, someone to blame, rather than accept the complex responsibility of living fully as human beings.

A few years ago, much of what is going on now in the West was unthinkable. But the unthinkable is not just openly discussed, it’s being implemented. In Poland it is illegal to talk of Polish complicity in the murder of Jews in Poland. Democracy and diversity have become dirty words. Sectarianism and bigotry have reared their ugly heads, stoking fear of immigrants, refugees, poor families, and ethnic and religious minorities.

In the United States, guns have better protection than children; banks more safeguards than Mother Earth.

How we define ourselves, and how others discriminate against us, is not confined to one single-word. Today we witness the intersectionality of discrimination – individuals and groups are marginalized for being of a certain color, and of certain sexual orientation, and of certain class, and of certain religion, in complex and overlapping ways. Today requires us to bear witness with curiosity, sensitivity and openness to a detailed landscape of the many layers of discrimination, and what makes us, and others, uniquely human. Can we then see this intersectionality as a common ground, where across seeming differences, collaboration and solidarity can rise?

What does diversity mean to you? Are we all in this together, or are a privileged few inside and everyone else out? Who is included, and who is excluded? What do we wish for our society, for this blue/green planet we call home?

Now more than ever it is crucial to bear witness to the results of xenophobia and bigotry. The 2018 retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau will not only bear witness to the killing and torture of Jews, Gypsies, Gays, and Polish intellectuals and journalists, to a time when a non-Aryan life was deemed a worthless life. This year’s retreat will also testify to what is taking place now in our own backyards. It will testify to the cynical manipulation of media and information. It will testify to the more than 65 million people now fleeing wars and environmental disasters, seeking urgently for food and a roof over their heads. It will testify to the many more people who will soon face new walls.

For over 20 years we have sat together in the place of fences and guardtowers, 80-100 people from many different backgrounds, from Bosnia, Rwanda, Israel, Palestine, Brazil, Russia, Germany, Poland, the United States, along with members of First Nations. Time and again we learned to listen deeply to each other, gaining a new respect for the richness of life that arises out of different stories and viewpoints.

We seek and welcome this diversity especially now. We seek young people who feel despair at what they see around them. We seek those with wisdom and vision. And more than ever before, we seek to galvanize each other to act as children of Mother Earth and take action to protect her and all her inhabitants, without exception.

How do we strengthen our resolve? How do we build bridges and alliances instead of walls? And in times of pessimism and confusion, where do we find clarity and inspiration to move forward?

Let’s come together in Poland this coming November, receive each other’s gifts, make vows on that sacred ground, and celebrate the sacredness of all life.


For registration and more info, please visit zenpeacemakers.org

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