It would be wholly inaccurate to describe it as fun, or even as mildly entertaining. How could a museum about the Holocaust ever be any of those things? But beneficial is another story. Not just as a reminder of how wicked anti-Semitism is, but also, for my kids, a good lesson on thankfulness.
It was a few years ago that we took them there. There were, given their youth, parts of it that I would not let them see, especially the two youngest. But of all the things that they did see that hit home with them, a simple display of, among other things, just how poorly they were fed in the concentration camps seemed to make one of the biggest impacts on them.
"Dad, was that really all they had?" my son asked as he looked at the meager rations allowed them. If memory serves me correct, it was just a boiled turnip that had to feed several people.
"Yes, son, that is all they had," I answered.
I could see the wheels turning in his head as he mulled that over and, predictably, tears welling up in the eyes of my oldest daughter and white hot anger building on the face of my youngest.
How good we really do have it day by day.
We are entering the holiday season here in America. Thanksgiving, Christmas and, for our Jewish brothers and sisters, Hanukkah. These are days and weeks of joy, happiness, gratitude and generosity.
But they are also very good days to remember that we have little to no reason to complain. That truth used to be self-evident, but these days it is becoming something much more in need of explanation and verification.
It truly seems like there is a quickly growing segment of society in our blessed land for whom there is always a cloud for every silver lining. They seem to be happy in their misery, if such a paradox can even exist. Everything is horrible and getting worse, and drastic societal changes are needed to even begin to drag things out of their hideous depths.
And yet none of us are in concentration camps. Hitler is long dead, and things are actually so very good for us that people are reduced to calling politicians, people who had to beg for votes to gain on office and can just as easily be voted completely out of power, Hitler, simple because they have the audacity to say things others do not like to hear.
No, there is not Hitler anymore; there is not even a close proximity. People do not gather in drafty shanties to complain about their lot in life; they gather in steakhouses to do that, and no one skips an appetizer or a dessert while doing so.
People scream and shout and hurl vile insults at government figures, calling them "fascists," and those insulted officials immediately send the secret police to murder them. Oh, wait, they actually don't, do they? No, they tweet or post their response on social media. Oh, the fascism! The loss of freedom!
To quote Charlie Brown, "good grief!"
We are the freest people perhaps in the history of the world. We eat so well that people legitimately talk about an obesity epidemic around here. We go where we want, pursue the careers we desire, choose our own political leaders, think we are poor if we only have two cars and have enough leisure time to post our daily meals and tasks for the world to see, with a healthy does of memes thrown in for good measure.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul said, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Yet, when he said those words, most believers were having a terrible time, some were even being persecuted and martyred.
We in America are blessed indeed. We have it good. And I type these words having just, for the outrageous price of $1, purchased and consumed a dark chocolate bar just because I wanted one. We have every reason to be thankful, joyful, grateful, all year long, but especially this time of year.
So enjoy this happy, holy season. As history goes, we are living in some of the easiest times man has ever known. Some thankfulness, therefore, would surely be in order.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.