Elie Wiesel - a Conversation I Overheard
It has been said that there have been certain people through history whose presence and energy could be felt when they walked into a room. I felt such an energy from Elie Wiesel http://tinyurl.com/pjkde when he walked into the studio yesterday morning at our local PBS station, KLRU http://www.klru.org/ , for a taping of Overheard with Evan Smith. This taping was part of the incredible Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project http://www.balletaustin.org/light/ (more on this project in a future blog post). Being a partner in the Light Project, I was invited to be in the audience for the taping.
Evan Smith did an excellent job facilitating this conversation with Professor Wiesel. There were many things he said that were noteworthy. Here are a few that meant a lot to me:
I was able to ask him a direct question at the end of the interview. I mentioned Edmund Burke's quote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." My question was, "I am at times frustrated by friends and colleagues who choose to do nothing when they know injustice is present. What advice would you give to encourage them to do something?" His answer was for me to speak up against the injustice first. He said, "If there is an injustice and I am silent, I am guilty." Those around me will only speak up if they witness my example of speaking up and doing something against the injustice. Brilliant!
Other questions were asked that had to do with humanity and injustice in the world. One of his closing quotes was, "I am not defined by my humanity unless it is linked to yours." This man of peace (1986 Nobel Peace Prize awardee) realizes and teaches that it is our link to one another that will cause peace (or harm). It is up to each one of us to accept that responsibility, the responsibility to link to one another, and act upon it, in order to achieve peace.
I encourage all of you to learn from, or be in the room with Elie Wiesel, if given the chance. If you cannot be in the same room with him, pick up and read one of the many books he wrote. You will feel his amazing energy through his words.