Elie Wiesel on hope, compassion, and the power of youth with Kim Shippey.

 

What is racism?  Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief; discrimination, bigotry.

What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means “no difference”. A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil.

 

Uploaded on Aug 10, 2011
One of the highlight moments in We Day history, Elie Wisel’s speech reminds young and old that we can make a difference in even the smallest of ways.
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INTERVIEW

Elie Wiesel on the test of faith

From the June 2001 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Kim is currently an international journalist and former writer and editor for The Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel.

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For the last 25 years, Professor Wiesel has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where Kim Shippey asked him how, during his time in prison, he had kept his faith.

I don’t think I did, really. I think I was angry. But my anger itself was part of my faith. I think faith that is not sensitive to other people’s pain and one’s own has something wrong with it. . . . In my memoirs and in my first book, Night, I wrote about faith that is tested. Abraham was tested ten times. Moses was tested. We are all tested. I believe this is true of all people who have faith. . . .

After the war, I realized that I had never really lost my faith. I was angry within my faith. I was a rebel in my faith. And I realized that I owe something to those I live with, be they my students, or my friends, or my family, or my readers. I don’t owe them my despair. . . . I owe them my despair. . . . I owe them what I can do with it. . . . Bitterness is self-destructive, as is hatred. If I am bitter, what is the use of my bitterness to other people? What can they do with it?

Do you believe in God?

I have faith in God. Absolutely.

Are you a religious person?

I don’t speak often about religion—mine, for instance, my own religious practice. I don’t want to divide people. To me, a person is a person. But since you ask, I must answer you. I am. I come from a religious background. I am not as religious as I was when I was young, in my little town; and my faith is not as entire, as whole; and my practice is not as I would like it to be, as it was. But nevertheless, I do pray. I do things that I think my father would have wanted me to do.

You’ve also stressed the importance of gratitude.

I believe in the virtue of gratitude. I think, for every person, gratitude is probably the most important response. To be able to say “thank you.” In my religion, the first thing you do in the morning is say “Thank you, God, for waking me, for my being alive.” And I say it to all people. . . . I spend my time it to waiters, drivers, those who serve me. They have my gratitude all the time, and my students even more so.

Just as a man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.”

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Elie Wiesel
Nobel Peace Prize
Acceptance Speech,
December 11, 1986

 

 

 

 

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