In Spite of Everything

The defacing of a public monument is a despicable crime in and of itself. But when the target is a beloved figure like Anne Frank—as happened recently at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial—and when the motivation is clearly anti-Semitism, acts of defilement drop to a whole new low.

The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, recently defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Clearly, only a truly ignorant individual would find it appropriate to indulge his baser impulses and engage in this sort of conduct. It would be easy to despise him. But while he deserves our condemnation, Anne Frank herself might not have offered hers. If the horror of what befell her during the Holocaust was insufficient to dim her view of Man, then mere vandalism probably wouldn’t have either.

In spite of the tremendous temptation to advocate bitterness and hate for her persecutors, she chose love for and belief in her fellow man.

Yes, terrible things were done to Anne, her family and her people in general. Yes, terrible things continue to happen to this day. But it is also true that the basic goodness of man shines through and we must continue to have faith in his will to do better. As Anne Frank herself said, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

That is why “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” is one of the most widely read and inspiring books in the world, even while her story tells of one of the darkest chapters of human history. We have all been captivated by her courage and perseverance in the face of calculated and deliberate evil.

In his essay “What is Greatness?” L. Ron Hubbard described that ability. “The hardest task one can have is to continue to love his fellows despite all reasons he should not. And the true sign of sanity and greatness is to so continue,” he wrote.

Anne Frank’s immortality is in no small part due to generations of her readers recognizing this true greatness in her. In spite of the tremendous temptation to advocate bitterness and hate for her persecutors, she chose love for and belief in her fellow man.

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