Etty Hillesum was a young Jewish woman born 15 January 1914 in Middleburg, Netherlands.

Etty HillesumIn 1932 Etty moved to Amsterdam to study law. In June 1943 she was interned for the third time in Westerbork Concentration Camp. On 30 November 1943 at the age of 29 she died in Auschwitz Death Camp.

Between 1941 and 1943 Etty kept a diary which was published in English in 1984 as An Interrupted Life.

On 28 September 1942, Etty wrote in her diary,

Ultimately we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

We can only give what we contain within. When our lives are driven by our needs, wants, demands and desires, we will always resort to some form of violence in an attempt to accomplish our aims. We may not use the blunt instruments of guns and bombs, but a word or a facial gesture can wield devastating detruction and sow the seeds of a more violent future.

Peace is not a political program. Peace is an activity of the heart. It can only begin as we “reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves.”

What practices in my life help me “reclaim large areas of peace” in myself?

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