Wednesday, September 5, 2012


The other day I decided to watch a Netflix streaming movie entitled Paper Clips.  It is the story of an eighth grade class (actually several eighth grade classes), in the tiny Tennessee community of Whitwell, that was given an assignment to learn about the Holocaust.  Whitwell is almost entirely Protestant Christian, and the faculty believed that the students should learn how intolerance can be deadly.

At first the students had a problem trying to visualize what 6 million anything would look like.  So they decided to try to collect 6 million paper clips.  It started off pretty well, and then the inflow slackened off.  All of a sudden it caught fire!  Word got out nationwide, and then worldwide.  What both students and faculty were learning was that not everyone was like them, and that prejudice and bigotry are not worthy characteristics.  In fact the Vice Principal admitted to prejudice, and he vowed to do something about it.

As word about the project spread, some Holocaust survivors came to visit.  They told their stories, which really made an impact on this tiny community.  Some students said that they didn’t know what Germans looked like, and when a German-Jewish couple came to visit, the youngsters were surprised to learn that they look like any other people!

By this time many millions of paper clips were taking up a lot of space in this small school, so it was decided that they should be kept in a permanent memorial on the school campus.  One German couple volunteered to find an old cattle car.  They located one in Germany that actually had been used to ship Jews to the concentration camps.  They had it shipped back to the States.  It was in shoddy condition, so it was cleaned and repaired.  Today it holds 11 million paper clips representing the 6 million Jews and 5 million other “unacceptable” humans who died in the concentration camps.  The students were most particular about which clips, out of the approximately 29 million clips received, should be stored there.  They wanted representation from all the different parts of the world from which clips had been received.  Ultimately the entire town learned a lot more than what 6 million anything looks like.

Our humor for today is a bit different.  I refer to my cockatiel Pepper as the resident clown.  She demonstrated that the other morning when she refused to ride on my hemi-walker (she prefers the -wheeled one) and solved the problem, thus:


  1. Wow. What a story. And a very heartening one.

    I grew up in Maryland, which was settled by Jews and Catholics looking for the religious freedom denied them in the other colonies; those two groups still predominate. (John Roberts on the Supreme Court comes from there.)

    So I was stunned when a Jewish friend of mine told me that while she and her husband were trying to adopt, they were denied at the agency in Kentucky where they lived: the people there flat-out said they weren't going to consign a child to hell by sending it to a non-Christian home.

    This Christian wept with her.

    She and her husband went on to successfully have children of their own after all, cherished and loved by God and their parents.

  2. What an amazing school project. I'm going to have to see if there's a way I can watch that movie.

  3. That is a wonderful story. What a great lesson the people learned, and I bet it keeps spreading form there :-}