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Indifference, How it makes the Human Being, Inhuman

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Linnea Mendoza

on 8 May 2013

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Transcript of Indifference, How it makes the Human Being, Inhuman

"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." --Elie Wiesel Pathos The Perils of Indifference The Message Logos Wiesel creates a strong feeling of correlation between indifference and human suffering. His message to the attendees of the Millennium Lecture, as well as the world, is that choosing not to do anything when human injustice in being committed is the wrong decision. Indifference only brings pain and suffering, and he conveys this message efficiently. He begins his speech by establishing his patriotism and his character. His past gives him unique experiences to reflect on and qualifies him to offer insight for the future of America. He then presents the concept of indifference, and proposes questions one may ask when attempting to define it. He explains the technical meaning, but continues to describe what indifference means to humanity. Wiesel uses logic to explain how a person’s indifference can render the suffering of others as meaningless. This Lack of compassion, and in a sense lack of humanity, is the point Wiesel uses to create passion in the hearts of his audience. He uses examples of Human indifference, and describes the pain and emotional terminal that can result from it. Wiesel experienced these consequences, and he rose from them to become a respected American Citizen. He uses logic to hook his audience, and created emotional responses by sharing real-life examples of pain and suffering corresponding with indifference. He balanced the right amount of Ethos and Logos with strong use of Pathos to efficiently convey his message. Ethos In order to avoid indifference, one must understand what it means to be indifferent.Wiesel gives the etymological meaning “no difference”. He then describes it as a blurred line between opposites, the obvious example being good and evil. He acknowledges the temptation indifference holds, but counters that temptation by revealing the type of moral held by those who are indifferent. “Yet for a person who is indifferent, his or her neighbors are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless”. This allows the audience to connect indifference with a lack of compassion. Another logical idea portrayed is how no response is even worse than emotions such as anger or hatred, as even they can inspire creation. Indifference does nothing but punish the victims. “Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. ” With these examples, Wiesel creates a logical connection between indifference and the continued suffering of victims. Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now a part of Romania. As a teenager, his family was deported by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz in occupied Poland. Elie and his father were separated from the rest of their family, and they remained at Auschwitz where they were starved, beaten and forced to do hard labor. Wiesel’s father died shortly before Wiesel, himself, was liberated. Wiesel and his two older sisters survived the Holocaust, his youngest sister and parents were not so fortunate (Bio.com). If America never intervened, Wiesel would likely have died. His survival gives him a unique perspective on exactly how grave the consequences of indifference can be. When he spoke as part of the Millennium Lectures, he reflected on tragedies fueled by human indifference, and cautions against such lack-of-action in America’s Future. His Speech became known as The Perils of Indifference. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hilary Clinton hosted multiple gatherings of powerful, unique, and insightful people; they were called the Millennium Evenings. The lectures and showcases were given by respected and established individuals such as scholars, scientists, visionaries, artists and other extraordinary people (The White House). The speeches given highlighted some of the greatest challenges and achievements of the American people. Each lecture provided unique perspectives that helped to open the minds of the people and create an even greater nation. On April 12, 1999, Nobel Prize Winner and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel became a contributor to these Millennium Lectures (The History Place). Begin here to skip the introduction Elie Wiesel is a well-known Global Rights Activist. He won the Nobel Peace Prize and wrote a best-selling novel recounting his survival of the Holocaust. His accomplishments automatically made him a reliable source before he even began his speech. For the purpose of a strong argument, Wiesel establishes himself as a grateful patriot. Near the beginning of his speech he states,” I am filled with a profound and abiding gratitude to the American People.” (Wiesel) He wants the audience to realize they are listening to a man who thinks very highly of America. When he discusses the actions of Franklin Roosevelt during the war, he first praises him and attests to his great leadership, then discusses the effects of his indifference. This allows the audience to understand that Wiesel acknowledges the good Roosevelt accomplished as well as the bad, and this presents Wiesel as less Bias. His First-person insight to the effects of indifference only strengthen his credibility. The Concentration Camps Millennium Evenings Written Record of Speech
http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/wiesel.htm The Emotions one may experience while listening to Wiesel are what truly inspire a passion within the audience. Throughout the speech, the audience is described the emotions of the Holocaust victims. He begins his message by describing his emotions as a young boy when he was finally liberated. “He was finally free, but there was no joy in his heart. He thought there never would be again.” With these words, Wiesel expresses just how emotionally damaging such suffering and despair can be. Indirectly, he is foreshadowing the severity of consequences that indifference can cause. After he explains indifference, he gives an example of men in the concentration camps who were indifferent and oblivious to the world. “They no longer felt pain, hunger, thirst. They feared nothing. They felt nothing. They were dead to the world and did not know it.” (Wiesel) Indifference among victims took away the humanity they had left. In Jewish culture, they felt that to be abandoned by god was worse than being punished by him. They saw it as the cruelest form of action. A small consolation the holocaust victims had was their belief that they world was oblivious to their suffering, only to discover that they world knew and they let it continue for months before anyone intervened. Pathos Indifference and America By now, Wiesel had already established that good people do not choose to be indifferent, and he openly questions how such a great country like America could be indifferent to the War on such a high level. He gives the example of the St. Louis, where Jews already on the American coast were sent back to Europe. This provides the audience with a sense of shame towards the previous actions of our country, because a great country would not be so indifferent. Wiesel closes his speech by speaking of the children, reminding the audience that they suffer most, but that there is also hope for them. “Some of them – so many of them – could be saved”. Wiesel triggers the audience’s compassion, and then gave examples of past situations that would cause Americans to feel guilty or shameful towards. He ends his speech by giving the audience a chance to prove that they have learned from past mistakes, and that they will not repeat them for the furute. Wiesel plays on the emotions of the audience to truly persuade them against indifference. Elie Wiesel is a celebrated author, and is gifted at using the power of words. He understands the consequences of indifference. As a noble patriot, he wishes to better the nation, and the world, but ridding it of indifference. By being himself, he has the power to influence many people. With the use of his intellect and compassion, he is able to rally people together to fight towards a common goal. Elie Wiesel is insightful and honest, and passionate towards ending human suffering. When he speaks out against indifference, he touches the hearts and souls of anyone willing to listen. Indifference, How it makes the Human Being, Inhuman Citations




"Millennium Evenings." The White House. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May
2013. <http://clinton5.nara.gov/Initiatives/Millennium/evenings.html>.

"Great Speeches Collection." The History Place. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2013. <http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/wiesel.htm>.

"Elie Wiesel Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 08 May 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/elie-wiesel-9530714>.

Wiesel, Elie. "The Perils of Indifference." Millennium Evenings. The Millennium Council. Washington, D.C.. 12 Apr 1999. Speech. by Linnea Mendoza
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