Dark Waters

Dark Waters

What is sacred?

What makes something sacred?

These holidays I had the interest to see plenty, of what some might call, sacred places, in the Polish heartland. However, the way in which some would describe the land I visited is not the same.

I will tell you why.

But first I will want to postulate the question, spoken in one of my favorite movies, by Orlando Bloom, in Kingdom of Heaven. It is as follows:

What is more sacred?

I had the pleasure (and pleasure I say with the most horrid of scrutiny) to visit Auschwitz. The despicable place was long dead and held an eerie aura above my head the entire time. This was all the more inspired by the frigid cold snow on the ground when my friends and I visited the site.

It is a sacred place

I remember most of all the oddity with which I acted around the site. I was compelled to be solemn, to speak briefly and with most distinction of all, I did not smile. I needed to be this way for I felt the need to respect the site’s hapless victims. From this sacred place, happiness was now anathema.

And how was this achieved? Not by me, nor the victims, nor even those who strongly feel about the location. No, there was something else, in the air, in my lungs, as I viewed the atrocious place where millions of people, particularly Jews, were made to suffer and die, nearly 90 years ago.

I soon learned that for many Israeli’s this is all the Poland they will ever see. The land of the Holocaust, death and oppression. How then, as I soon noted, was the land of sacred death and horror also the sacred land of liberty and hope for so many others?

Poland, for the Poles is quite distinct. It is their homeland, and it has been theirs for hundreds of years. They have been oppressed, and beaten and killed for this land, yet they persevered to make it their own. They fought to make it their own.

For them it is the sacred. The sacred land of glorious heroes and sacrifice.

It is strange how I find such similar altercations where we all now live. Here in Israel however I find the theme of sanctity used for the political.

Such a strange notion to hear. Sacred? A political tool? How obscene, I think. And yet, my ears still ring with the words spoken to me, in order to advocate the demolition of the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

These words were: It’s our most sacred place. Its only their third most sacred. We should have the right to knock it down. It makes me mad. Really. 


O well, of course, my vomit was propitious. It was so obvious, it’s just simple arithmetic, is it not?

I will now quote something spoken by probably one of the worst movies in history, which I simply feel, fits too well: (This movie is called, The philosophers).

Do not be fooled by the arithmetic.

I could not agree more.

It is still immoral. What morality is there in destroying what is sacred?

And so I return to my question, what is sacred?

I believe, that anything charged with human emotion is sacred. It is their sentiment incarnate, an omen, a harbinger left behind, their souls made thin before us. To destroy what is sacred is murder, I believe.

This I can agree with, while I may not agree with the people who sanctify.

No matter what is made sacred, land or river, or temple, or mosque is sanctified by humanity. And if you cannot respect what is sacred at least respect what is human

…What is a human being.

I think I would like to share something I found sacred in Poland. In Warsaw. The Vistula River was the grave of many revolutionaries and rebels to the Nazi regime. During the Warsaw uprising, many attempted to cross the river, and met their watery grave.

I walked alongside the cement river bank. There was bitter wind and the river literally bulged and heaved. It was a silent, sad place, I realized.

I was sad as well.

I think it was also a beautiful place. And I couldn’t help, much to my surprise, but shed a few tears into the black, cold waters.

This place is sacred for me, and it will be for eternity.

Sanctity is all that you commend your tears to, your smiles to, it is whatever draws the sentiment within you to this concrete world.

So I will allow Orlando Bloom to ask again:

What is more sacred?

Written by Carlos Sevilla

Edited by Peter Mangi


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