Sunday, February 23, 2014
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.” ― Elie Wiesel
The other day I used a quote by Elie Wiesel. Professor Wiesel is a prolific Jewish author who, when I was born, was a fourteen-year-old boy and an inmate in a Nazi concentration camp. He wrote of those experiences in a book called “Night” which I highly recommend. He lives in New York and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his work with Holocaust survivors. He was also my teacher for the Book of Job in seminary at Boston University. I visited him many times during his office hours and we had long conversations and became friends. The hand-written note he sent me when I graduated is in a frame in my living room here in Bunda (see picture at right). I used to buy his books and have him autograph them, so I could give them as gifts. I once asked him, as a Jew who was still awaiting the Messiah, when he thought He would come. He said he thought the Messiah was coming all the time in the hearts of special people and when enough of those people were on the earth, He would manifest himself. He also told me he could never forgive the Nazis and those who were responsible for the concentration camps. None of my arguments from a Christian perspective of forgiveness ever changed that view. He was very solemn almost all of the time, but the questions and comments I made in his class made him laugh frequently. I was even known for a time as the man who made Elie Wiesel laugh. For my final paper in his class, I wrote a one-act comedy and performed it using other class members as the cast which included two female camp survivors who were in class with me. He laughed a lot during that short, little play. But what I remember most about him is the prayer he told me he prayed every night. Every night before he would go to bed, he would pray, “So God, how’d I do today? Did I make you proud or were you ashamed of me?” If every one of us would pray that prayer every night, I believe the world would change for the better. Try it for a night or two. If is doesn’t change the world, it will at least change you.