Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Never refuse a child who asks for a piece of bread . . .

From an interview Marash Girl did with Peter Bilezikian in the 1970's

In response to the question, did your mother indicate that she wanted you to become anything in particular when you grew up? Peter answered,

"Are you kidding?  We were glad to get a piece of bread."

"During the Marash War, we were in Beth Chalom.  That was a German Orphanage.  There was a woman baking bread in one corner of the yard.  So I went over to her.  I thought that when she wasn't looking, I could grab a piece of bread and runaway and eat it.  (She was Armenian -- This was during the wartime.)  I asked her for a piece of bread before I determined to steal it.  But she wouldn't give it to me.  She said, "Go away, you.  These are for my children." I don't blame her. That's the way it was in those days."

"I was standing in front of her, I was a little boy about 6 1/2 , 7 years old, 1919, not seven yet.  Six and a half.  A bullet came from the top of the minaret (where there was a Turkish sharpshooter), whizzed by my cowlick,  hit her right between the eyes, and she died.  (I still have a scar on my forehead where the bullet knicked me.) There was a little boy with me there, we picked up all of the bread, ran under the stairway, and ate it.  All of it.  I wasn't hungry for days."

When asked, how did you feel about the dead woman? Peter answered, "Didn't feel at all, because there were a lot of dead people . . . she wasn't the only one."

"If I felt compassion for every person who died, I would not have survived.  Children were dying of starvation all around us.  I would see them dropping in the streets with swollen stomachs, literally starving to death."

How ironic was this last statement; Peter was one of the most compassionate people any of us has ever known.


  1. not ironic, at all. peter was a survivor. he proved that over and over again. as the good doctor Johnson (the famous one of the 18th century, biographer, Boswell) is quoted to have said, "the prospect of hanging (starving to death) concentrates the mind wonderfully." how anyone could see his comment as ironic baffles me. it speaks of a disconnect from reality, the reality that we live a short whisper away from passing, because all life is lived on the margin. this is why wealth creation wedded to the biblical ethical and moral imperative is a Holy undertaking. it ALLOWS for people to have compassion and then to act on that compassion. what good is 'compassion' if there is no means of acting upon it? In our culture the REAL IRONY is the political realm where there is a large group of people who demand the 'government' have 'compassion'. in order for that to happen, faceless bureaucrats must steal from those that have and give to those that who do not. yet the very persons who carry with them this 'politics of compassion' are the very ones who give the least to the poor, if anything at all. the ones who have a religion of compassion, those wedded to the judeo-christian ethos statistically, are the biggest givers, even if they lack the large bank account.
    the irony, if you want to call it that, is that in our culture, the more money that is piled up in one's personal account, seems to, in the aggregate, remove people farther and farther away from the very ethos which granted them compassion and the fuel to act upon it. instead, as they move away from that ethos, they move ever closer to the demand for government action, and eschew the personal, as well as their own responsibility to the poor. i know these are generalities, but the numbers bear out what i am saying. please do not think that every one who is not wedded to the judeo-christian ethos, and who has something to give does not have compassion. what i have said is true in the aggregate, and that is the shame of our culture, to legalize theft to work out one's own paled and forgotten humanity, resulting in massive government bureaucracies which absorb much of what they are empowered to give away.

  2. This makes me think about one of my grandmother's brothers. He never left a table fully satiated. When he was old enough to understand the impact of his begging his mother for food during the marches when there was none to be had, he was so devastated at the thought of having put her thought that, he could never bring himself to eat until he was full. What she would have given for a simple piece of bread for her children ...