Indifference Can Be Dangerous

Indifference Can Be Dangerous

At the turn of the century in 1999, Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor from Germany, stood in front of congress and gave a speech about indifference, a choice made by many in the past millennium, greatly affecting the world in a more of a negative than a positive manner. In his speech, Wiesel goes on to describe how the United States’ choice to intervene in World War II saved his life, instead of not interfering, like in World War I. He moves his listeners from the past and into the future, revealing he was the young Jewish boy the American soldiers saved all along. In Elie Wiesel’s Perils of Indifference, Elie guides the listener as a young boy through the past history of tragedies and accomplishments up to the present, and questions how one person’s choice could affect the future.

In the beginning of his speech, Wiesel talks about how grateful he is for being saved from one of humanity’s greatest tragedies, World War II, and wonders how people would look back into the events and judge them, morally and metaphysically (The History Place). Indifference, he explains, is the cause of violence and destruction (The Perils of Indifference 1). It is much harsher having no punishment than having any punishment at all. For example, in St. Louis, a 1000 Jews tried to immigrate to the United States, but were turned back into Nazi Germany by Theodore Roosevelt. The president who took America to war against the Nazi’s helped erase the spread of communism from other countries. Yet he turned back the people who needed his help the most.

When indifference is present in the minds of many, Wiesel explains that it can lead to disastrous events. If people realized how much of a negative effect they have on a problem when they don't choose sides, they would actually make a decision.

The world wars and any other events that greatly affected the people and the world, could have been stopped or prevented if people were not afraid or cared about their fellow human being. Not choosing a side is not always going to be the best decision and it doesn’t help anyone, not even the person making the decision to not to make a decision. The world needs humans being who help each other, this is how we survive, this is how we live, this is how we create a safer and better future for children. Then when these children are adults, they look at the choices their adults made and judge it based on how they see it. The past needs to be a good example, for them.

While many people may choose to live with making no decisions and choosing no sides to make their lives easier, is that really living a good life? Ignoring everything around you, even though when you know that there are people out there who need you to step up and help? Wiesel explains how choosing to choose indifference can be seductive, because ignoring others problems makes you not worry and stress, however indifference can reduce a person to an abstraction. When the American soldiers came to help Wiesel as a young boy, America’s involvement in the war against the Nazis is what saved his life and caused him to immigrate to the United States to live a safe life.

Indifference is what makes humans, inhuman. If someone had decided to stop Hitler’s action before things could escalate to World War II, we would have not had millions of deaths as a result of it. If people actually decided to go help the starving children in Africa or even in any part of the world, instead of ignoring it, maybe there would be less of them. If people came together and helped anyone in the world, instead of choosing to cover their eyes and ears, the world would be a better place for everyone living in it. Wiesel questions whether the people in the future, learn from the past and decide to make better decisions. Or will the future receive a similar outcome?

The only thing close to hope that the victims of Auschwitz and Treblinka had was that they thought their suffering was a secret, guarded by Hitler’s forces. They thought that if they were ever discovered, they would swiftly be rescued, that the forces oppressing them would not stand a chance once their secret was uncovered. But the world did know, and they had many chances to help them. However, America did not actually step into help, until Pearl Harbor. It took the deaths of many of their own to realize they finally had enough. Such a shame that world knew, but took so much time to help or did not even help at all.

Although indifference was also present among the minds in the past, taking action instead of ignoring things that need to be looked into plays an important role in making the future that we have today. For example; the fall of Nazism, the defeat of communism from European countries, the creation of Israel, Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt and finally the Peace Accord in Ireland. All of these were accomplished because some people in the world decided to come together and do the right thing, resulting in Elie being able to stand in front of Congress, as an old man when he was only a young boy wondering if he was going to be alive tomorrow or dead, during World War II.

In his speech, Elie Wiesel guides the listener through the past and into the future. He questions how harshly people in the future will judge the actions of the individuals in the past. He explains how indifference is the cause of the violence and destruction during World War II and the many wars and events that occurred around the globe. If indifference can be replaced with taking actions instead of being a bystander, it can lead to successful results for humanity. The fate of children rests into the hands of adults who either choose to take action, or do nothing at all.

Works Cited
Wiesel, Elie. "The History Place - Great Speeches Collection: Elie Wiesel Speech The Perils of
Indifference." www.historyplace.com/speeches/wiesel.htm 20 Feb. 2017.
Wiesel, Elie. "The Perils of Indifference." (1999): 1-3. Print.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Um, you right this or is it copy-n-pasted? It's really good, minus the issue with the whole thing being clumpy, which is just a fault of the website I presume.

    It's hard to find any significant contentions here. Taking into consideration that one stays within the presumptions of the argument. Ofcoarse one guy already pointed out that in changing the scenarios the validity of the wrong doing involved becomes nulled. But I think those are minor contentions in themself and not neccessary to the main point.

    I didn't really have too much to say about it otherwise, not without having a large discussion around many other things.

    I did have this video I watched pop into my mind and wanted to share it because I just do.. So I'll leave here with leaving a youtube video below which kinda relates on the subject... Or I was but I couldnt find it.

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    • No lol, I wrote this essay two years ago

    • Still, its good. I am not without criticism but I liked it. Its most importantly constructed well so its easy to read, aside from the GaG issues. It doesn't have a whole lot of visible flaws which is really nice.

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What Guys Said 4

  • This is basically preaching with no optimal solution. Indifference is a fundamental human attribute. Can it be bad? Of course, but so is violence in general, but you will not be getting rid of it either. Point is, it is always best to ADAPT to bad human traits than to try and build some utopia that can only last so long as these traits are ignored or wished out of existence. °
    AKKA, why communism always fails.

    "The world wars and any other events that greatly affected the people and the world, could have been stopped or prevented if people were not afraid or cared about their fellow human being"
    Except, they cared for their fellow human being, or more importantly, their direct family and community, which would not have wanted disruption because of war. If someone in another city is suffering, you would say that the correct thing to do is to not be indifferent and march over there and help, whereas others would believe that you should mind your own business and not leave your family and potentially die for someone else's sake. Your family, in the end, matters more. Why risk your life for a stranger when you run the risk of leaving your family without you? The stranger would live but the family would suffer. To expect everyone be both a fighter AND survive fighting is just insane.

    "Not choosing a side is not always going to be the best decision and it doesn’t help anyone, not even the person making the decision to not to make a decision"
    Except it does help the one not making the decision - you do not get involved in trouble.

    "is that really living a good life?"
    It can be and is for many. Who are you to judge them?

    "America’s involvement in the war against the Nazis is what saved his life and caused him to immigrate to the United States to live a safe life."
    And it also lead to the deaths of countless American soldiers on a war that never even struck their mainland soil.

    "Indifference is what makes humans, inhuman."
    Wow wow there. Demanding others risk their lives for you is no better.

    ". If someone had decided to stop Hitler’s action before things could escalate to World War II, we would have not had millions of deaths as a result of it."
    Literally, any past event could be re-evaluated after it happened. Anything can be a good idea, in hindsight.

    "Or will the future receive a similar outcome?"
    Humanity has always had a two steps forward, one step back type of thing going on. We learn from some mistakes, repeat others. To expect some utopia where everyone never makes the same mistake is, again, insane. Will never happen.

    "Such a shame that world knew, but took so much time to help or did not even help at all."
    Sounds to me like you're suggesting that it was the US that literally saved the day in WW2. You do realize that Britain and France were at war with Germany for years beforehand? And that the Soviet Union sacrificed the most lives to fight back against the Wehrmacht?

    "All of these were accomplished because some people in the world decided to come together and do the right thing,"
    No, they were accomplished because the politics at the time deemed it possible and profitable to the parties involved. There is no altruism, everything is a result of pragmatism. You could argue that Britain leaving the EU is a sign of ''disunity and division and of people not coming together anymore.''
    No, it's just politics.

    "He questions how harshly people in the future will judge the actions of the individuals in the past."
    The same as they always have. Future generations will be no less stupid than any before.

    ''He explains how indifference is the cause of the violence and destruction during World War II''
    Indifference was just a part of the issue. It was a combination of a plethora of factors, politics being the main one, indifference being somewhere down the line there..

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    • '' If indifference can be replaced with taking actions instead of being a bystander, it can lead to successful results for humanity''
      Also, if people would just not be violent anymore then we wouldn't have violence anymore.

  • Yea you're right, well written

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  • So what alternative do you think might be better?

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  • I feel apathetic towards indifference.

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What Girls Said 2

  • Yes, talk about those who discovered vaccines and antibiotics, but didn't make the use of birth-control mandatory. Now the Earth is bursting with population so we can hardly breathe.

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  • I agree, good mytake

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