Earlier this week I had the privilege to see Elie Wiesel speak. I didn't really know that much about him, but figured it would be a once in a lifetime chance to see a Nobel Peace Prize winner speak. I knew he survived the Holocaust, and that was enough for me. I had few expectations, but I was overwhelmed with the life lessons he shared. These are the big three that stuck with me.
Hope. Each person's definition of hope is different, but hope is essential for survival. When he was in a concentration camp, his definition was a bigger piece of bread or thicker soup. Without that hope, he would have given up. Now his hope is much bigger, but still just as important.
Wasted opportunity. During the Holocaust, millions of children were killed. When arriving at the camps, if you were not big or strong enough to work, you were the first to be eliminated. (That just gave me chills to type.) Surely at least one of those kids could have become a great leader, or find a cure to disease. Our world would be a much different place if not for the decimation of a whole generation. This has truly saddened me since I heard his speech. I had been able to wrap my head around this when the Holocaust was a concept. I had never allowed myself to think of these people as individuals who were just living their life like I do every day, until one day they weren't. Just one more example of how life can change in a moment.
We must all bear witness. It is all of our responsibility to see what is going on around us. It is not okay to just live and let live like I have been. We must take an active part in being the change we would like to see in the world. We all know that this should never happen again, but it continues to happen in various places around the world. We must think outside of ourselves and do something. At this point, I am not sure what that is, but we, as people of privilege, are responsible for helping those that can't help themselves.
Needless to say, I am still absorbing what I heard and learned. I have been called to action. I am not sure what or when that action will be, but it will happen. Right now, my action is to share Elie's message with others so they will also hear the call. For now, that will have to be enough.