Home A sit-down with author, lecturer Wiesel

A sit-down with author, lecturer Wiesel

by admin October 26, 2010

A sit-down with author, lecturer Wiesel

by admin October 26, 2010

The Concordian: “What do you hope students will gain out of your discussion today, and of your experiences?”

Elie Wiesel: “Both as a writer and a teacher, what I want really is to sensitize either my students or my readers to events they have not lived through, either in ancient Greece or Rome, or medieval heroes and villains, because this is sensitive. Certainly I put an emphasis on sensitivity, not more. I am much more modest in my aspirations.”

C: “Society is a lot more secularized today, why do you believe that religion remains such an issue of conflict?”

EW: “First of all I don’t speak about my religion, I don’t speak about religion in general. I speak about culture, literature, philosophy; my religious life is a personal matter. But tradition has been hijacked into some places which I think is wrong. Religion and politics should not go together, it’s bad for both. It’s bad for politics, it’s bad for religion. Then religion becomes politics; it’s wrong.”

C: “As someone who has always advocated standing up for a cause, or just doing something, how would you address student apathy, students who don’t get involved with anything?”

EW: “I am biased I don’t know students who are like that. My students, I try to teach them how to be involved more and more and more. To be a student is not only to be a student, it’s to be a human today. Be involved, you cannot just remove yourself from society, from history. You just cannot.”

C: “So what would you say to people who decide not to get involved with something?”

EW: “That they are losing something. What are they gaining if they don’t get involved? What are they gaining? To live a life that has no interest, that has no attraction, no challenge, no depth? It’s not an adventure anymore. To live a life which is not an adventure, what kind of life is that? Not to be involved is to remove oneself from whatever is outside. Obviously you are losing quite a lot. Society will go on without you, but can you go on without society, without your surroundings. I think they listen, when you say these things they listen. They say two things. Number one they say “we cannot do anything we are powerless,” which is a good argument only those with power can have power. But you can try, at least try. The effort in itself is rewarding, just try. The truth is the civil rights movement attained its victories on the campus. The Vietnam War ended on campuses. If students really become aware of their own power, they could change history.”

C: “Considering the past statements you’ve made about the Concordia Student Union, like a negative view you’ve taken on the CSU before, what made you come want to talk to us today?”

EW: “It hurt me. I said it’s wrong to abandon the Concordia students because of some protesters. Even the protesters, I’m sure they have their ideas. I don’t like the idea of preventing someone from speaking. If they had listened, and then protested I understand. But to prevent somebody from speaking is against what I believe in. And therefore I felt at the same time it’s a small group, and why should I not come and speak to students who want to hear something? And that’s why I accepted.”

C: “Then is it symbolic in a sense that you’ve come back to Concordia to speak to us?”

EW: “Absolutely. It’s because of that. I simply felt for the students. I feel responsible for students, whoever they are. And anyone who reads anyone of my books is like my student. And if they want me to come I have no right to say that I’m busy. I lead a very busy life, and to come and speak is not easy for me anymore. I simply felt I owe it to the students who wanted to hear from me.”

The Concordian: “What do you hope students will gain out of your discussion today, and of your experiences?”

Elie Wiesel: “Both as a writer and a teacher, what I want really is to sensitize either my students or my readers to events they have not lived through, either in ancient Greece or Rome, or medieval heroes and villains, because this is sensitive. Certainly I put an emphasis on sensitivity, not more. I am much more modest in my aspirations.”

C: “Society is a lot more secularized today, why do you believe that religion remains such an issue of conflict?”

EW: “First of all I don’t speak about my religion, I don’t speak about religion in general. I speak about culture, literature, philosophy; my religious life is a personal matter. But tradition has been hijacked into some places which I think is wrong. Religion and politics should not go together, it’s bad for both. It’s bad for politics, it’s bad for religion. Then religion becomes politics; it’s wrong.”

C: “As someone who has always advocated standing up for a cause, or just doing something, how would you address student apathy, students who don’t get involved with anything?”

EW: “I am biased I don’t know students who are like that. My students, I try to teach them how to be involved more and more and more. To be a student is not only to be a student, it’s to be a human today. Be involved, you cannot just remove yourself from society, from history. You just cannot.”

C: “So what would you say to people who decide not to get involved with something?”

EW: “That they are losing something. What are they gaining if they don’t get involved? What are they gaining? To live a life that has no interest, that has no attraction, no challenge, no depth? It’s not an adventure anymore. To live a life which is not an adventure, what kind of life is that? Not to be involved is to remove oneself from whatever is outside. Obviously you are losing quite a lot. Society will go on without you, but can you go on without society, without your surroundings. I think they listen, when you say these things they listen. They say two things. Number one they say “we cannot do anything we are powerless,” which is a good argument only those with power can have power. But you can try, at least try. The effort in itself is rewarding, just try. The truth is the civil rights movement attained its victories on the campus. The Vietnam War ended on campuses. If students really become aware of their own power, they could change history.”

C: “Considering the past statements you’ve made about the Concordia Student Union, like a negative view you’ve taken on the CSU before, what made you come want to talk to us today?”

EW: “It hurt me. I said it’s wrong to abandon the Concordia students because of some protesters. Even the protesters, I’m sure they have their ideas. I don’t like the idea of preventing someone from speaking. If they had listened, and then protested I understand. But to prevent somebody from speaking is against what I believe in. And therefore I felt at the same time it’s a small group, and why should I not come and speak to students who want to hear something? And that’s why I accepted.”

C: “Then is it symbolic in a sense that you’ve come back to Concordia to speak to us?”

EW: “Absolutely. It’s because of that. I simply felt for the students. I feel responsible for students, whoever they are. And anyone who reads anyone of my books is like my student. And if they want me to come I have no right to say that I’m busy. I lead a very busy life, and to come and speak is not easy for me anymore. I simply felt I owe it to the students who wanted to hear from me.”