World War II was one of the worst times in the history of the world. The mass genocide of humans is very hard to discuss. In a time of complete hopelessness there is a story of greatness. This article is about the life of an American couple who left their children and home behind to save Jews in Prague. Waitstill Sharp was a Unitarian minister and his wife Martha was a social worker in Massachusetts. It was 1939, the war had just started when they were confronted with a life changing decision. Seventeen others rejected the offer to set out on the mission of saving Jews. Their story has been recreated into a film by their grandson soon airing starring Tom Hanks. In their journey the Sharps rescued 125 Jews fighting the Nazis.
In class we have talked much about integrity and virtue. The Sharps embody what it means to be virtuous. Aristotle says there are two kinds of virtue, intellectual and moral. Intellectual virtue is something we acquire over time and experience. Moral virtues are formed by habits. What does it mean to be a virtuous person? According to Aristotle you must possess three things to be a virtuous person. One, you must be knowledgeable. You must have an understanding of what you are doing. Secondly you must choose the act. This is more difficult than understanding. This is taking the knowledge to the next level, acting on the knowledge.They must be intrinsically valuable as well. Good for their own sake. Lastly, action must proceed. This is taking the action to one’s core. This is the difference between a virtuous act and being virtuous. The Sharps could have stayed in America and sent food or packages over seas to help those in need. That would have been a virtuous act. Instead they risked their lives to save others they knew were in danger. Their story is not only shows their virtuous nature but offers hope in our own time of darkness.
“I’m not a saint,” Sharp replied, according to a book that Joukowsky wrote to go with the film. “I’m capable of any of the many sins of human nature. But I believe the will of God is to be interpreted by the liberty of the human spirit.”
“You get enough reward out of that?” Feuchtwanger asked.
“Yes, I do,” Sharp said.
Sources: Our readings and https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/the-risked-their-lives-to-rescue-hundreds-from-the-nazis-but-no-one-knew-their-story–until-now/2016/09/19/1d9a0d84-79b9-11e6-beac-57a4a412e93a_story.html?tid=pm_lifestyle_pop_b