Sunday, March 01, 2015

Book #9: Night

I've read books about people's experiences in concentration camps during World War II, but hadn't yet read Elie Wiesel's account, which was originally published in the 1950s. It was time this week.

Early on, Wiesel tells of a man from his village who had been shot and left for dead by the Gestapo while he was traveling through Poland. Moishe returned to the village and tried to warn people.

He spoke only of what he had seen. But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen. Some even insinuated that he only wanted their pity, that he was imagining things.

And then Wiesel makes his own record of events in the hope that people would listen and believe and keep them from happening again. We want to keep them from happening again.

But it is not as easy as it sounds.

I believe these are two reasons why: We hear stories we don't believe but should, like Moishe's, and we hear stories we shouldn't believe but do, like the stories the Nazis told themselves about Jews (and Roma, and homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses, and so on).

Sometimes we underestimate a real enemy. Sometimes we create enemies out of people who are not our enemies.

At the end of the edition of Night that I read is the text of the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech Wiesel gave in 1986. "Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political view," he said, "that place must--at the moment--become the center of our universe."

May we always strive to be there and on the side of the persecuted, and watch carefully that we do not become the persecutors ourselves.

1 comment:

Steve and Stace said...

Very well said!