I finished reading Elie Wiesel’s Night last night. I don’t say this often about books, but it was profoundly moving. I’ve read other accounts of the Holocaust before, but none so visceral as his. The honesty with which he rights is exceptional for any author, but becomes astounding when given its context. To read someone grappling with something so inhumane, questioning his faith in the process, and owning up to his own feelings of guilt around his father’s murder is something that will undoubtedly stick with me forever.
I’m glad that it will. The book is massively important in exposing the cruelty which humans can unleash on each other and is a lesson which everyone should read. Especially given today’s political climate and our regression towards barbaric ideologies. We’re in a dangerous place as a country and as a world and only by openly discussing the mistakes of the past and moving beyond them can we remove ourselves from the dangerous cycle of history.
Oddly enough, the one section that stands out the most to me was not written by Elie Wiesel himself, but his son, Elisha. In an address given on November 30, 2016, at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, he says:
When Syrian refugees need our help, we must help them.
When Muslims in our midst are made to feel they won’t have the same rights as the rest of us, we must embrace them.
When children of hardworking and law-abiding undocumented immigrants fear deportation, we must insist on adding compassion into the equation.
When women are made to feel that they are objects rather than people, when our daughters are diminished in any way, we must protest.
When African American citizens feel they are strangers in the eyes of the law, and policemen feel estranged from the communities they serve, we must seek to rebuild that trust in both directions.
When the LGBTQ community feel they are at risk of being terrorized we must let them know we stand with them.
And when the State of Israel is singled out by the United Nations and BDS activists and treated as the world’s villain simply for making sure that Jews will never again be without a homeland—we must let Israel know she is not a stranger in foreign affairs but an essential partner in the global struggle for democracy.
Words to remember as 2017 draws to a close and we still face so many issues testing our principles and our resolve.