Since I began traveling in Europe in 2015, I have visited many WWI and WWII museums, concentration camps, memorials, battlefields, cemeteries, destroyed villages, bomb craters, and other places in which sad/bad/negative/evil things took place. Being an empath I tend to feel much of the energy in these spaces, whether than is positive or negative. I know many of my readers experience similar things. How often do you consider the emotions these places create in you that can be used for change and healing? Or do you experience them for a moment and brush them off and move on?

Dachau ovens. Photo by author.

I read an article recently called, Why We Should Visit Museums That Make Us Think and Cry. I tend to feel, think, and cry in many places I visit so this article really called to my soul. The article focuses more on human and civil rights museums rather than military, but the concept is still the same.

“It’s really important to consider historic and contemporary issues from multiple perspectives so we can combat bias and prejudice – which we might not even realize we have until presented with an alternative view. This is fundamental to understanding and promoting human rights.” Throughout history, and even today, we can see patterns of denial and minimization of human-rights atrocities, along with efforts to silence the survivors and witnesses. These issues are not easy or comfortable, but it’s our role and responsibility to provoke thought and conversation that leads to education – which is the most powerful force for human rights in the world.”

Dr. Jodi Giesbrecht, CMHR director of research and head curator

Why Are These Spaces Important?

These spaces are important because for many of us, not all, they create conversation. Often we will visit places like this with someone. As we wander through an exhibit, a cemetery, a concentration camp, or other place, things call to us that we must comment on. Through conversation we hear someone else’s point of view about what is being expressed in the exhibit, etc. Conversation may create questions or points of view for us to sit with, meditate on, journal on, that we had not considered.

These spaces through conversation, meditation, thinking, push us to feel something more than we might have just reading an article or seeing someone’s vacation photos on Facebook. This may then create the need in us to do something about the issues we now know more about. This includes things from history like the Holocaust or combat in World War II.

How can we do something about those issues since they are in the past? Many people are still dealing with the trauma and effects of these events, among many others that have happened in our collective history. Inherited trauma creates in the descendants of those who participated or lived through these events, issues that create chaos, depression, sadness, anxiety or panic and many other things in their lives. Unresolved grief can devastate a family for generations. Yet by visiting these places that evoke emotions and thought, we can best determine how we personally should move forward to help heal the collective.

Doing something could be that we start talking with our own families about their experiences in the war, civil rights, genocide, Holocaust, or other collective trauma events. Writing those stories, learning the lessons, and sharing with others – even within our family – will help.

My belief and what I have experienced throughout my career as a family and military researcher is that if I can impact ONE person, it will ripple out beyond anything I can imagine. Some people do not believe this. They believe you have to stand and speak in front of thousands to have any effect on change or healing. That isn’t my belief. I have seen that if I help one person – teach one person – facilitate some healing in one person – they will go on to do more and tell others what their experience was and how the learned/changed/healed – and that may inspire someone else to look at their life and beliefs and make changes.

What is Your Experience in These Places?

What have you experienced in these places? Where did you go? What happened while you were there? What thoughts and changes did you make? What conversations did you have? How did it impact your life, living, and reality? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

© 2020 Ancestral Souls

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