Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner and survivor of Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, recently published a new translation of his very first book, Night, originally issued in 1958. The new translation from the original French edition is provided by his wife, Marion.
Wiesel has written over forty books.
He claims this first one is the most essential.
Night tells the story of Wiesel's experience as a 15-year-old boy in the horror camps of death where he lost his family, his innocence and his orthodox Jewish faith.
I am walking through the short volume right now. It is tough reading, but powerful and gripping.
In one terrible passage Wiesel describes his reaction to witnessing the hanging of a young boy who had the face of a "sad angel."
As the crowd watched his death, someone behind the young Wiesel groaned, "For God's sake, where is God?"
"And from within me, I heard a voice answer: Where He is? This is where--hanging from this gallows."
In a recent interview with Time magazine, Wiesel pondered what would be required to redirect humanity away from violence and self-destruction.
When asked where we should start, he provided a thoughtful reply:
"We should fight hatred. There should be a Biblical commandment: Thou shalt not hate. And there is indifference. Everyone can fall into this trap. It's so easy to enter into indifference and stay there. An indifferent person remains indifferent unless shaken up. These are the most important subjects in the world."
(Time, January 30, 2006, page 8)
I believe he is onto something here. How about you?
Removing hate from our hearts and our neighborhoods and our cities--talk about changing things from the inside out! Each of us can go to work on this goal today, can't we? Right inside where we live and decide the issues of life.
Wiping out indifference? Equally important as we renew our individual and collective commitment to building healthy and functional communities for everyone.
Both objectives call on me to open my heart to others, to adopt humility as a way of life and, simply put, to never give up.
In explaining his own hope in the face of the horrific power of evil in the world, Wiesel quoted Albert Camus who once wrote, "Where there is no hope, one must invent hope."
Wiesel's wisdom and commitment to never allowing us to forget the truth of his own terrible past, propels us to embrace a new hope even in the face of the most daunting of urban challenges associated with entrenched poverty and injustice.
Pick up a copy of Night. You will be moved deeply.