As History Repeats, Will God Forgive Us?
By Penny Wiegert
The coronavirus pandemic is partly responsible for a new passion of mine and that is listening to audio books. And those books have been great enjoyment and have brought about some deep reflection and connection to modern day.
Reading has always been a favorite pastime in our family and thanks to my parents, my love for books began at a very young age.  I even won a seat on the library float during my hometown’s centennial for reading the most books in the summer of 1969 — an anecdote that no longer impresses my grown children but it’s a nice memory none-the-less.
But over the years, reading for pleasure took a back seat after spending all day reading, writing and staring at a computer here at the diocese. My camping and vacation reading is usually the stacks of Consumer Reports and National Geographic magazines I can’t always keep up with. Then after several eye surgeries, reading was even a little more tiresome after a day at the office.
During the pandemic shut-downs, I came across the Libby App and thought I would give it a try.  I have never looked back. What a blessing it is to escape into the world of books.  And with audio books, I can listen anywhere and do other things like laundry, dishes and food prep, all at the same time.
In the past year and a half I have probably listened to 40 or so books, an amount  I know I would have never ever begun to finish by reading the old-fashioned way. One of my favorite genres is history and historical fiction.
I have listened to about a dozen books set in the era of World War II and centered around the stories of the Jewish people. Those stories provide the purpose for this narrative. 
The accounts of the actions of the Nazis have caused me to pause in reflection, prayer and even to ask forgiveness for people I will never know. The burning question in my mind during my listening sessions is “how could anyone or any group of people cause the death and destruction of other human beings because of their race or religion?”  The more basic question I’ve asked myself and God countless times during these stories is “how can anyone knowingly kill an innocent?”Will God forgive those that killed all those innocents in WWII?
I try to console myself by thinking such things won’t happen in this day and this age and that those chapters of senseless and willful extermination are over. 
But then I pick up an article reporting that restrictions on abortion and euthanasia are being lifted, legalized not to mention promoted and celebrated, I realize my assumption is wrong.
We teach the history of the concentration camps, the “cleansings” that all resulted in more than six million lives being erased from the face of the earth. People that could have changed the world had they been allowed to live. We learn these lessons in the hopes of preventing such tragedy.
And yet, here we are in the midst of a global pandemic trying to control and manage the loss of life from COVID-19 which, according to the World Health Organization, currently stands at 4.6 million people worldwide, while there are those that fight continually for the right to erase more innocents from life among us through abortion. 
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the research group that supports abortion rights, worldwide “roughly 121 million unintended pregnancies occurred each year between 2015 and 2019. Of these unintended pregnancies, 61% ended in abortion. This translates to 73 million abortions per year.”
How will readers and listeners of books in generations to come wrap their heads around the stories of those numbers? Will they ask the same questions I have — how can we stand by and erase millions upon millions of people from the face of the earth? How many of these innocents would have changed the world had they been allowed to live? Or will we repeat our histories again and again?
Will we repent? Will God forgive us?