April 16, 1942-Etty Hilllesum

80 years ago today.

“Unless every smallest detail in your daily life is in harmony with the high ideals you profess, then those ideals have no meaning.”

Etty Hillesum

Etty made this bold claim about a friend who read inspiring literature about rebuilding life after the war (WWII) and also smoked multiple packs of cigarettes a day. She blatantly told her friend, you can’t have systematic self-destruction and hopes for a better future.

I contemplate Etty’s polarizing quote today. All or nothing viewpoints trigger and require inspection, and with this quote, I do not 100% agree. However, it has me picking through the details of my life like puzzle pieces to inspect which ones fit together and which ones don’t. Where do my ideas and my actions not align? The final picture of my life will be affected.

This is the main idea of Etty’s writings. Always turn back to self. One must consistently look within and evaluate the inner world because, in the end, it is the only thing over which we have control.


Get the full version of A Life Interrupted and Letters from Westerbork. (Affiliate link)

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