There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. –Elie Wiesel, from “Hope, Despair and Memory”
Enter the Holocaust. Our journey in 211 enters a darker realm today. For the next several weeks we will trek through the horror that was, the horror that can be neither easily nor fully imagined, the horror that must, as Elie would suggest, never be forgotten. And while it will be a trip neither pleasant nor easy, we will endure it; we will honor the call; we will remember. But we will also do more. We will learn that we, too, with our own words can make a difference.
Guided by the question, “Confronting Injustice: Can We Make a Difference?” the kids will select and confront an injustice for their Confronting-Injustice-and-Making-a-Difference speeches. Through our discussions, we have generally concluded that while we cannot always prevent injustice, we cannot just ignore it either. We have to take a stand. We have to have to believe that we can make a difference in our world. Perhaps now, more than ever, we need this generation to believe in the power of their potential. I just hope I can help them discover the power they possess. It is not enough that I believe. They must believe.
Yesterday, our first steps began with reading Elie’s Nobel acceptance speech for Night in 1986. Gone now, dying just this past year, Elie’s words are perhaps more powerful than ever, an agelessly relevant reminder that we must remain ever-vigilant against that which threatens our humanity.
None of us is in a position to eliminate war, but we must expose it and denounce it in all its hideousness. War leaves no victors, only victims. Mankind needs to remember this more than ever. Mankind needs peace more than ever,for our entire planet, threatened by nuclear war, is in danger of total destruction. A destruction only man can provoke, only man can prevent. Mankind needs to remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures, it is our gift to each other.
This was delivered in ’86 when the Cold War was still hot, a time when I was young and worried–truly worried–about the next big war, maybe literally, “the war to end all wars.” And now, thirty years later, Elie’s words seem no less relevant, the world no less scary. We have to read Night. We have to remember. We have to remember that the morning, to spite the night, can still come. Even if the days are dark ahead, if we remember, we can find the light, discover the day. Darkness must not descend.
Okay, enough of that. Sorry for the melodramatic doom and gloom, but this stuff is important, and lately it’s felt all too real. I worry more than I care to admit about the world we’re leaving our kids. And I suspect that I am not alone. But maybe if we can get them to discover and believe in things greater yet, they can be the difference. I aim to try.
Let’s try to be happy Thursday, all. The sun’s about to rise. Day triumphs again.