I have been revisiting Elie Wiesel’s book NIGHT of late. It was in a way what brought on November 9th’s post bout the Night of Broken Glass. After yesterday’s post Scott Shields put me onto Oprah’s page where I met Clemantine Wamariya for the first time. She was one of the winning high school students in an essay writing contest that Oprah had reflecting on why NIGHT is still an important book.
This is what Oprah’s page says. “For her, Night is a chilling reflection of her own life growing up in Rwanda.” You see she lived genocide as did Wiesel. This young woman hid in a tree while she heard members of her family being massacred. In her speech to the National Holocaust Museum she spoke these words; "People say you can’t change the world. But you can change people," Clemantine goes on to say "And they will say that history repeats itself. No. We’ll repeat history."
This young woman’s story is a chilling reminder of our need as North Americans to open our eyes to human atrocities and suffering around the world. History is really the story we write. It has no intelligence, no mind of its’ own. History does not make decisions. I think that Clemantine is right. History does not repeat itself. We repeat history. In our repeating of history we demonstrate how we have failed. Failed to notice when things are going off the rails. It seems that in this part of the world we are constantly reacting. I think this young wisdom is something we should heed. Perhaps in trying to change the world we are missing the boat. We need to focus on people and on change in them. We need to focus on ourselves and change in ourselves.
Reading Clemantine’s words were inspiring for me and I hope they inspire you. We all need to hear, see and read the words of God’s children when they sing the song of justice. I hope that we can all hear her words and that we can find ways to change ourselves, change people, and change the present and future so as to ensure it does not look like our history. Elie Wiesel said, “to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” So let us be changed….and let us speak.