So I started teaching my class about Hitler yesterday.
That’s a lot for these 10 and 11 year olds to take in, right?
However, at the same time, they demonstrate a remarkable emotional maturity to deal with major themes, horrible tragedies and difficult topics.
It was the first time I’d had them all totally hooked on what I was saying.
The topic of World War Two and the lead-up to it has been something I’ve known a lot about since I was 14 (half a lifetime ago!).
What’s weird though, is seeking to share this with the next generation – not simply so that they’re aware of it in a simplistic way but also that they can understand it and learn lessons from the past’s horrors.
For the causes of World War Two as you know were varied and complex. One man’s sinful ideas and actions carried a fine and upstanding nation into their second war in twenty years, but the seeds of the war were sown long before Hitler achieved any power.
The radicalisation of a whole generation came about from undeserved sanctions, economic misery and siege mentality amidst other things. Sound familiar?
With all this horror surrounding the appalling actions of Isil in the Middle East, it’s all so relevant right now.
As a teacher, I guess my role is to help my students understand the links in the chain. To not see cause and effect as black and white but to see how layer upon layer of actions and events led to one huge conflict…and to help them understand how to stop that happening in their lives or even on a global scale.
We as people can each play our part in making our world a better place. And much of it starts with education. Teaching the value of kindness, generosity, selflessness, patience, humility etc.
But ultimately, changing the world is not something we can achieve on our own. After all, we’ve been trying ever since creation.
In the end, it will all come down to God’s grace and mercy.
I don’t know the full reason why God allows wars to happen with suffering on such an immense scale. Why humanity can pursue their own selfish desires to the point of brutalisation and destruction.
However, I do know this. He’s perfectly good and will sort it all out one day. It could be tomorrow. It could be in a thousand years. But we trust in his timing and plans for the world. And I am fully confident that he will be faithful to his promises.
God’s name alone reveals his character. Exodus 34v6 “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.”
While I wait for God to fulfil those promises, I’ll keep teaching my children the horrors of the past and help them learn from it. And maybe they’ll take their own steps to stop the potential Hitlers of their generation getting any kind of foothold.