Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Thinking about humanity, read Elie Wiesel's "Night"

University and learning in general are meant to broaden your mind and make you think and question the world around you... and most certainly my choices of courses this term is doing just that.

I am taking a course entitled "The History of the Holocaust" and I feel like this course is really going to make me think a lot and I'll have lots to say about this class, so keep your eyes on this blog if you like these bouts of Mike Jutan being serious for a change and not just going on and on about how much I love my job and my friends and the Dave Matthews Band (although there will still be plenty of these kinds of posts, I am sure of it.) :)

Anyhow, I'd like to post a couple of feelings on here tonight. I just read Elie Wiesel's "Night", a terrifying recount of the author's life during World War II and during his time in the Auschwitz concentration camp and other concentration camps. It was a very short read, only about 120 pages or so. But it was incredibly powerful and hard to handle. I cried several times in the 2 or 3 hours it took to read it. Why I point this out is that I feel that this book is powerful yet very accessible, a good read for young adults or high schoolers. Certainly University students can handle the language and the length of the book. This fact makes this book all the more important... the message of "Never Forget" MUST be carried on by our society, and as my History Professor so nobly said in class today, it is our DUTY... not our choice but our DUTY to remember the Holocaust.

As the Spanish philosopher George Santayana said in his famous quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I therefore applaud Elie Wiesel and all who were involved in his publishing, editing and translating. This must have surfaced such painful memories, but we as a society can certainly benefit from reading his story. I also applaud my fellow classmates, many (or even most) of whom are not Jewish and are taking this course out of interest in the past. This is a moment in human history that should never be a distant fading memory, it should be a clear field of study with ongoing research and discussion, so as to spread knowledge and understanding and prevent this kind of atrocity from happening ever again.

So I implore you, get a copy of this book, borrow it from a friend or a library, or buy it. It's only $12. Very accessible. There should be no reason why people of our era, the "age of information" should be kept in the dark about issues of this magnitude and historical urgency.

Perhaps we can do more than just shed a tear about Elie Wiesel's painful memories of the Holocaust - perhaps we can see it in our hearts and minds to see others as who they are... fellow Human Beings. Everyone deserves the right to practice their own religion and to live their life peacefully.

There are many lessons to learn from this book and from the Holocaust. Wouldn't it be nice if one day all of humanity could treat each other as equals?

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