What would you say are the most crucial ingredients to human survival? Food? Water? Shelter? Equally important is the need for hope.
The Jewish Holocaust was one of the darkest periods in human history. Over six million people were murdered in German concentration camps. Millions more barely survived horrific conditions of disease, abuse, and starvation. The misery was unbearable.
When the Allies liberated camps throughout Europe, they were shocked by what they found among the gas chambers and mass graves – drawings, writings, sheets of music, all created by prisoners. Among the thousands of examples of creative expression was an entire symphony written on toilet paper. The prisoner had penciled in each note with the charcoal he’d been given to combat dysentery.
When Orchestra conductor Francesco Lotoro learned that over 8,000 of these musical compositions had been archived, he set about the task of transcribing them. He says some of the music might have changed the course of music history had it not been composed in the midst of genocide.
Why would prisoners in a death camp write symphonies? Or draw pictures? Or write stories? Because the act of creating something – anything – gave them purpose. And purpose gave them hope to carry on.
When we’re suffering, hope can be as hard to find as a flower in the desert. But hope is as essential to survival as food and water. Hope gives us strength to bear our suffering. Because if we have hope for tomorrow, we can endure hardship today.