We must always take sides

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“And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.

There is so much injustice and suffering crying out for our attention: victims of hunger, of racism, and political persecution, writers and poets, prisoners in so many lands governed by the Left and by the Right. Human rights are being violated on every continent. More people are oppressed than free.

There is much to be done, there is much that can be done. One person – a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.”(Source “Night” by Elie Wiesel)

This is a part of Elie Wiesel’s acceptance speech on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1986. The new edition has been translated by his wife, Marion Wiesel and for the first time, I could read the speech, it’s printed at the end of his book “Night.”

I finished the small book last night, had read it (again) after so many years. I was laying in bed, held the closed book in my hand and thought about it for a very long time. His words echoed in my mind. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” 

The wise words were written by a man who had seen the worst of humanity. He is right, we must always take sides. What might seem small today, can be big tomorrow.

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19 thoughts on “We must always take sides

  1. Your highlighted quote near the end was the section that grabbed me also. “Silence helps the tormentor not th tormented.” So true. Speak for the weak, sick, poor, unborn, voiceless.

  2. Such a powerful statement, Bridget. I saved this post for future reference when someone tells me that just being a good person is enough. It isn’t. We have to take a side or our silence says we don’t care and it makes us complicit. ❤

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