Hope, Despair, Memory

This was Barack Obama’s original campaign slogan, but it didn’t test all that well with the voters.

American LiteratureAll American Literature
AuthorWiesel - Elie Wiesel
FormSpeech
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureAmerican Literature

Transcript

00:17

…that they nearly also awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature on the spot.

00:22

All right, we may be exaggerating a tad. But it was good. Real good.

00:23

In his speech, Wiesel argued for the importance of peace.

00:26

He begged the world to face history and learn from it, because “it is memory that will

00:33

save humanity.”

00:35

He said that, “…there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but

00:41

there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

00:43

It was powerful, stirring, rich with horrifying anecdotes from Wiesel’s own life…

00:50

…and was enough to make a pacifist out of just about anyone.

00:55

And yet… there are still religious wars being waged every day.

00:58

Minorities are still persecuted, senseless acts of violence and cruelty run rampant.

00:59

Does this mean that Wiesel’s speech… really didn’t do much?

01:02

To be fair… it was just a speech.

01:04

A half hour or so of words.

01:07

Impactful and rousing words, granted… but words, and nothing more.

01:11

No weapons had been taken out of the hands of the hateful…

01:14

…no religious conversions had been performed. His speech might have changed minds…

01:18

…but in the scheme of things, he really didn’t reach that wide of an audience.

01:21

It wasn’t like the Nobel Committee could stream it online.

01:22

It would be asking a lot of Elie Wiesel to craft a speech that would actually inspire

01:27

peace on earth and good will toward men.

01:29

He was a great man with a great mind, but he was no miracle worker.

01:33

But just because there was no sudden, sweeping change in humankind’s treatment of one another…

01:38

…did that mean his speech was a failure? Obviously, if everyone in this world gave

01:42

up, we’d be in rough shape.

01:43

There would be acts of uninhibited racism committed every minute.

01:44

A misguided sense of ethnic superiority would reign supreme.

01:48

Although he was only one small soldier on a sprawling battlefield…

01:52

…didn’t Wiesel do his part to help the rest of us… keep fighting?

01:56

Or, perhaps more appropriately… to stop fighting?

01:59

It is these rare, inspirational voices that gradually move the slow ticking needle of

02:04

human progress forward.

02:06

Although the effect of this one speech on its own may be negligible…

02:09

…it is this practice of broadcasting a message promoting love and acceptance that reminds

02:15

each of us of our humanity.

02:17

It’s just a shame that we can’t flip on the TV and hear more of it, more often.

02:21

Instead of being inspired by some hot new actress to purchase her latest fragrance.