People who pass the test of adversity, often fail the test of prosperity. Oskar Schindler is a striking example of this sobering fact.
Difficult times can bring out the best in people, encouraging sinners to act like saints. Prosperity can have the opposite effect. Oskar Schindler is a stunning example of both principles.
Many of us know of Schindler thanks to "Schindler's List", a book by Thomas Keneally, later released as a blockbuster movie.
Schindler was born in Austria-Hungary in 1908. His early adult life was filled with dissipation as a desire for the "good life". He joined the Nazi party to further his material ambitions, leveraging the connections therein to advance his goals. In his early life, Schindler was primarily known for his hedonism, womanizing, and excessive alcohol consumption. He also exhibited considerable greed, hiring large groups of Jews because their unenviable status allowed him to hire them cheaply.
And from this baseline of degeneracy, Oskar Schindler's life took a dramatic (if ultimately temporary) turn.
A war profiteer, Schindler selflessly turned away from his hedonism and materialism, spending his entire fortune — an estimated $20,000,000 in today's dollars — to save 1,100 Jews from slaughter. He also ordered that all munitions made in his factories be defective, to hinder Germany's war efforts.
After the war, the now-penniless Schindler returned to his old ways. He moved to Argentina after the war, taking his wife, a dozen of his Jewish workers . . . and his mistress. He eventually died in his 60s of liver failure, driven by his alcohol-fueled ways.
Schindler's life should give us great pause. Here is a man who was completely controlled by his passions — greed, lust, & pride — for the majority of his life. His early and later years are almost identical in terms of his carnal interests.
And yet, for a few years, Oskar Schindler lived like a saint. He sacrificed everything — putting his own life in grave danger and spending his fortune down to materially nothing — to save the lives of over a thousand Jews.
Schindler's whipsaw biography is a both a beacon of hope and a sober warning. His life is a striking example of the truth that people who pass the test of adversity often fail the test of prosperity.
As such, we must ask ourselves: In America and western Europe, is the widespread economic prosperity a blessing from God? Or is it a terrible judgment for our sins?
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