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.