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History and the Impact It Leaves on Our Soul Are Nazi soldiers who have already sought penance for their volatile, brainwashed past deserving of such harsh treatment in today’s society? Jakiw Palij is a kind and heart-trending old man at the age of 95 when he was stripped from his home in New York City and extradited to Berlin for War Crimes. Trump and his administration have stood firm that no war criminal shall ever be forgiven and recognized as change regardless of time and change affecting the criminal. However, Germany has seen the penance and the guilt that has weighed down this man for many years and feels that he should not be prosecuted since he is a “changed man.” Which side is right? Henry from Have a Little Faith, Ignatius from Alone and on Foot, and Austin Niederkofler all reveal that a violent, bloody past helps determine one’s morals and strength of character in the present.
Firstly, in Have a Little Faith, Henry Covington’s criminal and drug-riddled past did not promote further crime and self-destructive actions, but, rather, fostered Henry to become the “gentle-giant” pastor that he is seen as in the future. While Henry is hiding behind trash cans, crouching down with a shotgun in hand as he awaited the dealers he mugged to kill him, he Niederkofler 2 says,”Will you save me, Jesus?” (Albom 94). Not only did Henry question his past actions, but also his past actions and volatile history had allowed him to start considering how he can seek faith and God to become a better person, one with better morals and with better character. Additionally, as Henry talked about his past time in prison and how it has affected who he has grown to be as a person now he says,”I seen a lot in life. I know what the songwriter meant when he wrote, ‘Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, since I laid my burden down’” (Albom 120). Pastor Henry is speaking on a more deeper, personal level about how his volatile and crime filled past has taken a toll on him and has allowed himt of focus more on developing morally as a person rather than focusing on what crime or drug he should attempt next. Overall, it can be seen throughout Henry’s life that his morally-corrupt past has opened his eyes and allowed him to become the great man that many aspire to be more like today.
Secondly, Ignatius’ life as a soldier has influenced his life in leading to his conversion to become the Saint we now look up to and revere today. During the Introduction in Alone and on Foot about what people usually see attributed to Ignatius, it reads,”During his convalescence from his cannonball injury, didn’t he gain an insight that changed his life?” (Grogan 1). Even in the Introduction Brian Grogan S.J. is showing the important highlights of Ignatius Loyola’s life and one of the main points mentioned is that his time as a soldier, specifically his cannonball injury, has allowed me reflect on the brutality of war and he’s call to be a better person and a “soldier” for God. Additionally, Chapter begins talking about the location of his childhood having an impact on his future when it reads,”He was a man with the capacity to live alone: Within the depths of his soul he longed for solitude, a solitude that came from his very nature. Niederkofler 3 His family’s military traditions have led to to Ignatius’ childhood to be fostered in solitude that would contribute to Ignatius seeking solitude in a cave as he makes his transition from a blood-thirsty soldier to a humble servant spreading God’s word. Overall, it can inferred that Ignatius Loyola’s soldier background had contributed greatly to the path leading him to become a Saint, the embodiment that all Christians strive to be more like.
Lastly, Austin Niederkofler’s past as a brute and pugnacious child has allowed him recognize the flaws in his ways in order to develop into a young man for others at Brophy College Preparatory, a prestigious Jesuit High School striving to develop the students of Brophy in mind, body, and spirit. When Austin was in kindergarten at St. Francis Xavier middle school, he had tried to fight with others to gain respect, but he had met a smaller boy named Ryan Blake tried to hug Austin rather than try to intimidate each other. This experience had resonated with Austin as he began to learn that he should be a kid for others and strive to be the better human rather than lower his morals to achieve success. Later on his life, Austin had just been accepted to the Blackhawks Soccer Club where he practiced being the most aggressive player he can be to injure opponents, so that his team could win. Later that year, Austin had been assigned to a new coach who had displayed the utmost respect to our opponents on and off the field, winning and losing with the attitude that he was blessed to have been able to play against them. This experience had allowed Austin to recognize the morals that all players should strive to exhibit as person. No longer wishing to hurt others for his personal gain, Austin was able to focusing on developing as a player and helping others develop too and grow into young men. Niederkofler 4
Our history and mistakes will follow us everywhere and will never disappear. However, we, as humans, are called to change and transform to become a better human as we contribute our lives to society. Henry’s time in prison has allowed him to find God and help support others in the community rather than rob them so that he may buy drugs for his own temporary pleasure. St. Ignatius Loyola had been changed after witnessing the brutality of war and sought to no longer be a soldier taking lives but, rather, saving lives through faith. Austin Niederkofler had been enlightened through other’s actions that his fight and flight nature was detrimental to his development as a man for others. As a result of his past, he has since changed to strive and become an instrument not only in the development of his life, but also in the people of his community.
1. Albom, Mitch. Have a Little Faith: A True Story, 2009. Print.
2. Bennhold, Katrin, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. “Ex-Nazi Guard in U.S., Now 95, Is Deported to Germany.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Aug. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/world/europe/nazi-guard-deported.html .
3. Connolly, Kate. “Germany ‘Unlikely to Prosecute’ Nazi Guard Deported from US.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 Aug. 2018, www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/22/germany-unlikely-to-prosecute-nazi-guard-deported-from-us .
4. Grogan, Brian, and Ignacio Tellechea Idígoras José. Alone and on Foot: Ignatius of Loyola. Veritas, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/world/europe/nazi-guard-deported.htmlhttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/22/germany-unlikely-to-prosecute-nazi-guard-deported-from-ushttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/22/germany-unlikely-to-prosecute-nazi-guard-deported-from-us
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