Elie Wiesel’s “Perils of Indifference” Critical Review

Perils of Indifference is a speech pronounced by  Elie Wiesel  during  Seven Meetings Before the Millennium in the White House in April 1999. In this prominent and touching speech Elie Wiesel speaks about devastating consequences of indifferences.  Eilie Wiesel, a Jewish writer and social activist  made a lot of effort  to attract public attention to terrifying injustice committed by Nazi Germany to Jews.  Elie had to experience all atrocities of Holocaust Concentration camp, where he lost all his family. After ten years of silence he started speaking about terrible things he and other Jews had to go through in these camps. Elie Wiesel got the Noble Price in 1996 for his big contribution to  the dependence of peace in the world. He  became an influential writer, thinker and civil  activist who fought not only  to  make people remember about terrible crimes of Nazi Germany, but also spent his effort to fight any injustice in the world. 

In Perils of Indifference Elie Wiesel speaks about terrible consequences of human indifference. Using his own past negative experience, he speaks about results of such attitude. He underlines that terrible tragedy of Jewish people during the WWII became possible only because of indifference of big number of people all over the world. He speaks about people who might have changed the situation but did not take action.  According to the author, indifference is the most dangerous quality, which deprives people of their human nature. Any emotions can be changed and transformed into something positive, but indifference kills any chance to improve the situation and results in total degradation.  The beginning of the speech is very personal. The author frames his speech into the feelings of a small boy he used to be when was taken to the concentration camp. This boy felt desperately lonely and abandoned, same like all other children and grown-ups incarnated in the camps of death. This boy desperately needed compassion and help, and now,  many years after that terrible events, the author wants to warm all people and especially those, who are in power, about terrible consequences of indifference.

The speech is  a  brilliant address to the entire mankind. It touches deepest feelings and  emotions and makes reflect about important things.  We got used to blame Nazi Germany and Nazi regime in the tragedy of Holocaust. The author sheds light to another important aspect of this tragedy. He speaks about millions of other people, who are also responsible for these terrible crimes. These people did not take part in the warfare, did not take part in tortures and murders of innocent people. These people did nothing, but by doing nothing they  made their contribution to the biggest tragedy of the humankind- tragedy of killing hundreds thousands of Jews during the WWII. The author uses best arguments to speak about great danger caused by indifference.  As he states, “In a way,  to be indifferent to that suffering is what  makes the human being inhuman.  Indifference, after all, is more dangerous, than anger and hatred”( Wiesel,  333). Knowing from his own experience about terrible consequences of indifference, Elie Wiesel  attributes ability to feel compassionate to most important human characteristics. Wiesel’s speech made me think a lot about compassion and active life position. In many cases indifference turns to be more than lack of any activity. It can become a passive support of violence and crimes.  Thinking about others and compassion are those characteristics, which distinguish people from other spices. People become fully people only when they learn how to care about others. Wiesel chooses best arguments to support this thesis. I fully agree with his statement that  helping others is the best manifestation of humanity.  As Wiesel points out, “The political prisoner in the cell, the hungry children, the homeless refuges – not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude,  by offering them a spark of hope,  is to exile them from human memory.  And in denying their humanity, we betray our own. (Wiesel , 333). It is often considered that those, who are in need require our help and compassion. In reality, I think that those, who give this help need it even more. Feeling compassionate and helping other people we  get opportunity develop our  best qualities and traits of character.

Wiesel  speaks about terrible lessons of the past and expresses hope that these lessons are learnt now. At the end of this speech he asks important questions : “Does it mean we have learnt from the past? Does it mean that society has changed?  Has the human being become less indifferent and more human? Have we really learnt from  our  experience? “ ( Wiesel, 334). I believe that these questions should become important reminder for everybody. They should remind all people, and especially those, who are in power, about  terrible consequences of indifference. Our past experience proves that indifference can become a reason of terrible tragedies. Wiesel makes perfect job by illustrating how devastating and dangerous indifference can be. It is necessary to use Wiesel’s questions in order to be sure  that people move towards humanity.

Wiesel’s speech is a touching, deep and philosophical narration which speaks about  important human  values. The author uses all his persuasive talent  to bring his message to the audience. He underlines negative consequences of indifference and warns people about responsibility for all their choices.  Humanness is the biggest value of human race, and indifference threatens this basic value. Wiesel speaks about burning issues which are still up to date and require scrupulous attention of wide publicity.

References

Bressman, Eric (2006-7). Fighting Indifference: Looking at World Response to the Holocaust with Elie Wiesel. Journal of the Undergraduate Writing Program: Columbia University

.Wiesel,  Elie “The Perils of Indifference” ,

Foss, Sonja K. (2009). Rhetorical criticism: Exploration and practice (4 th ed.). Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press.

 Hilberg, R. (1992). Perpetrators, victims, bystanders: The Jewish catastrophe, 1933-1945. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers

The History Place (2013). The History Place Great Speeches Collection: Elie Wiesel, The Perils of  Indifference.  The History Place.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]
close
Haven't found the right essay?
Get an expert to write you the one you need!
print

Professional writers and researchers

quotes

Sources and citation are provided

clock

3 hour delivery

person