There are two things in this world that instill a passion in me beyond all else - universal love, and social justice. Of course, these things go hand in hand. Freedom is synonymous with oneness is synonymous with love. I have one dream and it goes like this: one day we all wake up and realize the hurt we do unto one another is the hurt we do unto ourselves, we awake from the collective nightmare of separation and guilt and loneliness and competition. And we finally see the only thing we were ever meant to see in one another: that we are the same. That we are only love and only here to learn love. And then we begin.
This dream is not out of reach, otherwise, I wouldn't be able to dream it. But it requires each of us to do our part. It requires each of us to speak our truth, to fight our fight, to stand in the places of discomfort for ourselves and those around us. To realize that we each play a part, we each have a voice, we each contribute to the dream. That in fact until we each play this part, until we each understand the importance of our own actions, that the dream looms in the distance.
Popova says "Wiesel reminds us that even politically momentous dissent always begins with a personal act — with a single voice refusing to be silenced," citing this portion of his speech:
I remember: it happened yesterday or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the kingdom of night. I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.
I remember: he asked his father: “Can this be true?” This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?
And now the boy is turning to me: “Tell me,” he asks. “What have you done with my future? What have you done with your life?”
And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
And then I explained to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. 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, … 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.
This is what I say to the young Jewish boy wondering what I have done with his years. It is in his name that I speak to you and that I express to you my deepest gratitude. No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them. Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.
To your voice. Your very important, lovely voice.