Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Elie Wiesel Speaks in Columbia

Wiesel spoke at the Koger Center in downtown Columbia tonight. This is not the first time I have heard him speak. It is truly amazing to hear the silence in the room as we all strain to hear his next words. Everyone there wants to listen and learn from him, which is encouraging to me. I see Columbia as a small southern college town, with small southern town problems. However, as Wiesel pointed out, Columbia is better than it was 19 years ago during his first visit here. This is also encouraging.

Wiesel reminded us that Darfur is every person's problem. He said that when any religion or race is discriminated against it is to the detriment of all of humanity. Wiesel studies the Talmud and in it is a famous saying that, "when you save the life of one person, you save the world." Wiesel preaches this concept in slightly different words.

Wiesel spoke about interviewing an author in France, whom he was hoping to ask for a recommendation for a job with a government official. This author was famous for being in love with Jesus and relating everything to Jesus. He gave a few funny examples how things always came back to Jesus. At some point Wiesel gave up. He asked one last question of the author, in which he responded that, "Jesus suffered too." Wiesel then looked at the author and said, "I know of children that suffered far more than Jesus did and not a word is ever spoken about it." He then got up and left the office without ever asking for a recommendation. After reaching the elevator, the man came out of his office with tears rolling down, stating he was truly sorry. Before Wiesel left the man said, "Maybe something should be said?" This is how Wiesel's first book came about. Very cool story and a wonderful talk.

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