Exercising Wisdom Can Change Your Life:

How one unlikely hero affected thousands

“Wisdom: Knowledge rightly applied. We assimilate lots of knowledge. Whether or not we do anything with that knowledge is a measure of our wisdom. That implies some change … and change can be difficult.” — Hyrum W. Smith

We’re Human

We’ve all made mistakes. We all have regrets. We’re human. What’s more important to recognize is that each of these actions provides experience. Many of us have been selfish and greedy at times, which typically leads to short term happiness. Some have even exercised a controlling power over others for their own benefit. Hopefully, with age comes wisdom, and change. Enter Oscar Schindler, the subject of one of the greatest motion pictures every made, Schindler’s List (and yes, it won Best Picture).

Schindler’s List

Here is a man who saw an opportunity at the beginning of World War II. He moved to Nazi-occupied Poland to open a factory and employ Jews at starvation wages. His goal was to become a millionaire. He was a greedy and powerful businessman who saw opportunity at every turn. But then a funny thing happened and the other side of human nature took over.

After Schindler found out what was happening at Auschwitz, he began a systematic effort to save as many Jews as he could. For money, he could buy Jews to work in his factory, which was supposed to be a part of the military machine of Germany. Ultimately, he had defrauded the Nazis for months, with a munitions factory that never produced a single usable shell.

Wisdom Saves Lives

At some point the light bulb went off and he realized in his success at power and influence he was saving lives. In the end that was all he cared about. In fact he wishes he could save more (see clip below). He entered the war as a financially wealthy industrialist; by the end of the war, he was basically financially bankrupt, but he recognized the value of changing and saving lives.

At the end of the movie, there is a sequence with overwhelming emotional impact, involving the actual people who were saved by Schindler. We learn that “Schindler’s List” and their descendants today are well over 6,000 and that the Jewish population of Poland is 4,000.

The key message, one man did something, while in the face of the Holocaust others were paralyzed. Maybe it took a man like Schindler, an enigmatic con man, a reluctant hero, to do what he did.

As the film celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year, Memorial Weekend seems like the perfect time to recognize the wisdom of Schindler’s List.

About the Author:

Jon Fitzgerald is the Founder of Cause Cinema, connecting audiences to the best in social impact Cinema. He is also the author of Filmmaking for Change.


Exercising Wisdom Can Change Your Life: was originally published in The Mission on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Jon Fitzgerald

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