Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Elie Wiesel


One of the benefits of living in a university town is that the university brings in some INCREDIBLE speakers. Monday night, I had the privilege of hearing Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel speak as part of the University of Mississippi Honor's College convocation.



Elie Wiesel is a survivor of the holocaust who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. His most well- known work of literature is Night which is about his experiences in Buchenwald and Aucshwitz.

The Ford Center, our amazing performing arts complex, was full and people were standing outside hoping for unclaimed tickets. This is the venue where Christopher Paul Curtis spoke a few years ago and where Ingrid Law will be speaking next month. It is where the presidential debates took place (and yes, I can now say that I have seen TWO Nobel Laureates in person, thank you very much).

Mr. Wiesel spoke about his tireless work to end government sanctioned humiliation and racism. He talked about coming through the South in the sixties and compared that visit with the South as he saw it today:
"The way this school has coped with the past and has faced its own injustice is something that makes me proud to be with you. It's a painful memory. It shouldn't have happened. But it did happen. But now, that doesn't exist here anymore."

He also pointed out that the opposite of love isn't hate. It's indifference. Evil thrives where there is indifference. He lived through the Holocaust, seeing the most horrible cruelty firsthand, and has spent his life fighting tirelessly to end suffering, racism and prejudice at the hands of oppressive governments.

His message was one of hope--one of rebirth and rebuilding, but rebuilding with the knowledge of what came before.

Peace,
sf



10 comments:

Irene Latham said...

I'm touched and inspired just reading your post! Thanks for sharing. Also, just found out I'll be signing at Square Books March 25. My first trip to Oxford!! Gotta see you gals. :)

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, he is amazing! I got to hear him speak in person as well. What an honor!

Diggestive said...

What am amazing guy!!! Thank you for this post, I am now inspired to read more about him.

Christina Lee said...

WOW-- his book was one of the most gut-wrenching ones I've read! SO inspirational. I love the quote the opposite of love is indifference- perfect!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I would love to hear him speak. Thanks for sharing your experience and his message with us. :-)

Nisa said...

What a neat experience! I always thought the opposite of love was fear. Very interesting when you throw indifference into the mix. Perhaps love has several antonyms. Thank you for sharing!

Katie said...

I need to hang out with you more often :-) Outside of your kitchen that is. ha! This sounded so great! I'm sorry I missed it.

Christy Raedeke said...

And now I'm back to looking at real estate in Oxford. You get the most amazing people to come through...

Lisa and Laura said...

Amazing! I heard him speak at one of the schools I taught at. It's an incredible opportunity to hear a survivor tell their story first hand and so sad that in a few years, we won't have that chance anymore. I'm glad you were able to hear him speak.

Shelli said...

i love oxford!

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