// no one may speak for the dead, no one may interpret their mutilated dreams and visions…neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented…our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately || [ elie wiesel, nobel peace prize 1986 acceptance speech ]
Hello, Readers :: Happy (almost) 4th of July! Tomorrow’s celebrations mark the 240th birthday of our United States of America. (Right, 240th, NOT 2016th.)
I remember my parents holding a party for my sister and I when we became U.S. citizens after our adoption. We each received a shadow box with a cast iron copy of the Key to the Bastille (like the one that hangs in George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon). Beside my replica of the Key is a short explanation of its meaning; perhaps best summed up by the Marquis de Lafayette’s words: “Give me leave, my dear General [Washington], to present you…with the main key to the fortress of despotism. It is a tribute which I owe as a son to my adoptive father, as an aide de camp to my General; as a missionary of liberty to its patriarch.” Included in the rest of the text is the admonition to “cherish the blessings of liberty and remember the sacrifices that have made it possible.”
My current job has allowed me to, almost daily, keep up with the world news. If anything, the current stories and reports have convinced me to remember that freedom comes at an enormous cost. It requires deep, thoughtful contemplation and planning; foresight for the future; an understanding of both the small and big picture; and an ultimate respect for the value of life. Like the late Wiesel suggested, we cannot turn a blind eye to injustice or bias—we cannot just contently eat bread and merrily go to circuses, as a Roman satire once wittily said. It’s not too hard to continue to pursue the liberation of those in captivity; it’s not good enough just to skim the headlines and post a Facebook profile picture of yourself decked out in a country’s colors, it’s a crime to remain silent about injustice.
Celebrate the success of our country and get excited about patriotism! (Fireworks, here I come!) But do not forget to continue to seek to educate yourself on what made this nation great and who has worn the uniform and the One who gives and takes away blessing.
[ au revoir, hannah ]