It’s been almost two weeks since the death of Elie Wiesel, so I’m a little slow in getting around to this (for a number of reasons), but I did want to mark the passing of this great man. My heart cracked when I heard of Wiesel’s passing–he was such a shining example of humanity: writer, activist, professor, Nobel Laureate, and yes, Holocaust survivor. It actually hurts to read the body of work he left behind, as his words travel to that soft spot deep inside, to sting, to horrify, and yet, ultimately lift. As he says in my favorite quote from his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, we have a responsibility to speak up in the face of injustice and suffering:
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”
It would do the world some good to heed this advice on a grand scale. Our voices, joined together, can help to ease the cruelty and inhumanity surrounding us–which is a worthy pursuit; perhaps the worthiest of all.
R.I.P., Elie Wiesel. Your passing is keenly felt, and strongly mourned, and you will never be forgotten.