Elie Wiesel

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What message does Elie Wiesel want to convey in his speech "The Perils of Indifference"?

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Elie Wiesel's speech "The Perils of Indifference" condenses the essence of its message into the title, though it is a more general condemnation of indifference than the word "perils" might suggest. Wiesel begins by recalling the rage in the eyes of the American soldiers who liberated Buchenwald. He was grateful for their anger, for it reflected his own. One ought to be angry about the concentration camps, just as one ought to be angry about all monstrous cruelty. To be indifferent is to become monstrous oneself.

Wiesel admits that indifference can be seductive because it is easier to ignore suffering than to act. Ultimately, however, it is dehumanizing, since one must ignore the suffering of one's neighbor. Apathy is also a purely negative thing. Anger or hatred might lead one to write a great poem or compose a symphony. Axiomatically, nothing great—indeed, nothing at all—has ever been accomplished through indifference. It is entirely sterile.

The speech also makes the point that...

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