I’m Great… How’s ‘Bout You?

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

~ Anne Frank

Anne Frank died at the very young age of fifteen in the Auschwitz concentration camp, in 1945, after several months of incarceration with her family. Every year during my career as a History teacher – and often, several times during each year, I taught my students about the holocaust. I hated it! I longed to skip that unit of study because of the feelings of horror and disgust it aroused within me. But I knew that my feelings could never get in the way of instructing my students about the wages of discrimination and hate.

I have often sat, reading a quote from Anne Frank, and marvelled at the positive attitude that seemed to pervade her work. How could a Jewish teenager, in hiding with her family for two years from the Nazis occupying Amsterdam, express ideas like the one quoted here today? My first instinct when I came across this quote was to leave it and continue my hunt. But Anne Frank’s words continued to rattle around inside my head until I returned to the place where I had found them. Her words and her inspiration is of far greater significance than my aversion to the memories of that horrible period in twentieth century history.

When you look at the five sentences that comprise this passage, there isn’t any reference to a negative idea in any of them! Anne begins with the bold assertion that everyone has a piece of good news inside of him. On the one hand, that is very heartening, but on the other, was she including the Nazis in this sweeping statement? My guess is, yes, she was. Did this young teenager understand the intricate factors underlying the Holocaust and the dynamics of the evolution of this “final solution”? I doubt it. However, I do believe that Anne Frank was an optimist who had a positive view of humanity.

A positive view of humanity… really? In the face of so much discomfort, deprivation and constant fear brought down upon herself and her family, how could she see any good in the Nazis? I grew up in the decade immediately after World War II, when the wartime prejudices and hatred towards the Germans and Japanese were still fresh. As a kid, I remember shunning another school mate because he had a German surname. I wasn’t a teenager at the time, and I certainly had not learned the importance of tolerance. It was my study of History that allowed me to understand that concept so that I could retain my hatred of evil acts and let go of my hatred for those who committed them.

She claims in this passage that we don’t know our potential – or how great we can be. This seemed to excite her imagination because she used exclamation marks. We don’t know how great we can be, is the good news. If we accept this idea, then we’re more likely to explore possibilities than we had before. Our minds become open to the world of possibility – as Emily Dickinson asserted in her poetry. Indeed, that is good news!!

I can see Anne’s hopes and dreams for herself in her declarations that we don’t know how much we can love. In my mind, her age doesn’t discount the validity of these claims. Can any of us really know how much we can love if we don’t ‘push the envelope’ in our own lives? If we consider our family members, friends and colleagues, can any of us say that we have exhausted our potential to love these people? Can we do more? Should we do more? I believe that Anne Frank is encouraging us to explore this potential. I’m sure that this is the best way to prevent another Holocaust.

Anne also challenges us to consider what we can accomplish in life. When I retired from teaching seven years ago, I wasn’t thinking about future accomplishments. I was thinking about writing as a way of keeping busy and enjoying my retirement years. I wasn’t thinking about great accomplishments when I joined Rave Reviews Book Club a year ago this month. Despite my fears and reluctance to be adventurous, I accepted a position on the RRBC Board of Directors. Then I started volunteering to do things like host an Internet radio program, and becoming the Producer of eight shows each month. Really?? What did I know about producing BlogTalkRadio shows? Not much, so I had to learn in a hurry! A year ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of getting involved in what I do now every single day. Why? I had no idea what I could accomplish in life! What’s in store for me next year? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!!

 

About John Fioravanti

Author, John Fioravanti writes non-fiction as well as fiction in the sci-fi genre. He's a retired secondary school educator and a lifelong learner. He considers himself a work in progress and welcomes the opinions and insights that others may have about his work. He prizes dialogue about meaningful topics, so please leave your thoughts!

14 thoughts on “I’m Great… How’s ‘Bout You?

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Kim Cox

    July 11, 2015 at 1:54pm

    Thank you for sharing and reminding us, John! What an inspiration Anne Frank was and is while faced with such monstrosities and deprivation in her short life. It is a lesson to be learned for sure. I’m glad she was able to live on even after death. One my resolutions this year was to stay away from negativity and focus only on positive comments. It’s too easy to get sucked into the negative of others sometimes.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      John Fioravanti

      July 11, 2015 at 2:59pm

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts about Anne Frank today, Kim! Staying away from negativity is a good thing.

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    Linda Mims

    July 10, 2015 at 8:45pm

    John, I taught “The Diary of Anne Frank” as a teacher and I have enjoyed this reminder of this wonderful young girl who taught a classroom full of my students what strength and courage looked like. Nobody cared that she didn’t look like them. They just wanted her to survive! This was a great read. An Anne Frank quote that might apply to writers, “I wish to go on living even after my death.” She got her wish!

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      John Fioravanti

      July 10, 2015 at 8:53pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Linda – I loved the quote you left as well! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your thoughts!

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    Shirley Harris-Slaughter

    July 10, 2015 at 8:01pm

    John, I saw Nonnie’s tweet on your post only I didn’t realize it was yours until she said so. Here is what I tweeted back: “She’s mine too. I feel for her so much. She was very brave to be so young #RRBC” meaning she was an inspiration to Nonnie and so I responded in kind.
    This is a very nice post John. Thank you for sharing it.

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    Nonnie Jules

    July 10, 2015 at 7:03pm

    “No one has ever become poor by giving.” This is my most favorite quote by Anne Frank. It speaks to and adds to the foundation on which Rave Reviews Book Club was built. I love anything Anne Frank, so John, thank you so much for choosing her to serve as our inspiration today. Remembering ALL her words of wisdom, makes you think of the old adage: “from the mouths of babes.” Such wisdom in her youth; such optimism in all her despair; such courage where many others only saw fear.

    I do believe there is a piece of good news in all of us. Each time I’m more forgiving, more loving and more lenient, I believe those words to be true, because I never knew it was.

    Nonnie Jules
    http://www.NonnieWrites.wordpress.com
    http://www.BooksByNonnie.wordpress.com
    http://www.RaveReviewsByNonnieJules.wordpress.com

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      John Fioravanti

      July 10, 2015 at 7:13pm

      Thank you for your very eloquent contribution to this discussion, Nonnie. Your favorite quote by Anne Frank is very powerful. What if Anne Frank had never written down her thoughts while in hiding? This is the true power of the written word – it survives the ages…

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Harmony Kent

    July 9, 2015 at 5:20am

    This is a lovely post, John. I have always admired Anne Frank, and for me she personifies the person who always sees the jewel in the mud, and is proof personified that it isn’t necessarily what happens to us that counts, but how we respond to it. Thanks for sharing this inspiration with us. 🙂

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      John Fioravanti

      July 9, 2015 at 9:53am

      Thank you for stopping by and contributing to the discussion, Harmony! So true, Anne Frank was a marvel!

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Jan Hawke

    July 8, 2015 at 8:03am

    Hi John – Anne Frank’s a natural hero and I’m glad she sustained you in having to deal with the inclusion of the Holocaust in the History syllabus. She’s a very important figure I think in that she’s a beacon for the ‘right’ way that humanity should be evolving.
    When we look back on horrible events we almost always see hatred as a catalyst, but also greed, jealousy and acquisitiveness and it’s those ‘lesser’ traits that feed the hatred needed to perpetrate hideous crimes against humanity. Jealousy of others status or success, indiscriminate greed indulged by taking more and more, or taking it away from those deemed ‘unfit’ to have it – it’s a horrible cycle of negativity and selfishness that blights the human condition individually and collectively. It ensured that racial hatred of ordinary Germans and Japanese continued to be ingrained long after the events of the World Wars and we see being repeated all over the globe to this day.
    I think you’re to be applauded for continuing to teach your students about this period despite your own inclinations because it MUST be done so that each new generation learns the consequences of giving into envy and greed and fuelling their hatreds. And Anne will continue to light the flame for us to find the positive and strive to be better and to be happy, even when times are unbearably tough.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      John Fioravanti

      July 8, 2015 at 8:45am

      Extremely well said, Jan. Brava!! Thanks so much for taking the time to significantly contribute to the discussion!

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