Thursday, July 23, 2009
I just finished reading 'Night' by Elie Wiesel and it's something you just can't shake, you know? At the end of the book, there are excerpts from his Nobel acceptance speech. And I felt like it was really appropriate, not only for the Holocaust, but also for the Cambodians, the Rwandans, the Darfuris, and the Ugandans.
December 10, 1986
I remember: he asked his father: "Can this be true?" This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?
And now the boy is turning to me: "Tell me," he asks. "What have you done with my future? What have you done with your life"
And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
And then I explained to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remain silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. 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 universe.