Voices Against Indifference Initiative

A Decade Inspired by Elie Wiesel

sponsored by

The Leon Levine Foundation

Sandra and Leon Levine

Essay Contest

1st Place


The Web of Relationships We Call Earth

By: Sara Mishamandanz

Senior, East Mecklenburg High School

“Night,” by Elie Wiesel was written for one important reason, to tell of the Holocaust so that it may never be forgotten. This story was the account of a Jewish boy’s inhumane treatment and his suffering. People now know what happened to Jews all over Europe during World War II in part due to accounts like Elie Wiesel’s. We learn about his story not so that we can feel sorry for him, but so that we become aware of the atrocities humans are able to commit upon one another. We become aware of such atrocities in order to prevent them from happening ever again. After the Holocaust ended, people around the world said that we could not let such a horrible event occur again. People said that this earth will never see genocide again after such a horrible experience. What is more horrible, however, is the continuation of such genocide all over the world. The Holocaust has not served as a model of what not to do; countries continue to perform such inhumane injustices on their own people. Not only has it occurred since the Holocaust, but it is occurring presently in Darfur. An entire population of people is being wiped out simply because of their ethnic group, a statement that is strikingly familiar to discussion of the Holocaust.

In high school, one reads and learns about the Holocaust from English to History class. We face the terror to learn about the past. By learning of the past, we are supposed to learn of past mistakes so that we can prevent them from occurring again. We continue to learn about the Holocaust but what we don’t read and learn about are the events that have occurred recently that contain atrocities like that of the Holocaust. Just because we don’t have famous books published about such events, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn about it. By informing the public of such problems, we become closer to a solution. The first step is awareness; once that is accomplished, people start doing something about it.That has begun with Darfur. Campaigns and organizations around the world have raised awareness and money to aid in this conflict. Awareness has improved and although more people know about the Holocaust then about genocide in Darfur, the awareness is on the rise. Recently, the 4 year mark of the violence in Darfur was reached. Four years is far too long for such a conflict to continue. The populations of other countries must take a stand to help. Our community must take a stand to help and as a young person, I am capable of helping it end.            I am capable of helping because I am capable of donating money to organizations that help Darfur refugees and those who are trying to stop the problem. I can help by informing others of their ability to donate money to help the situation. Because the conflict is so far away, money is really the only thing I can do to contribute apart from knowledge. I have the ability to inform others, to raise awareness which in turn, raises the commitment of others to help in the conflict. Not only does this raise more awareness but it also raises supporters who are willing to donate time and money to the cause. I know I am capable of such feats because I know of high school students who have organized fundraisers. I know I am capable because I have contributed portions of what money I earn as a young person to the funds through organizations and fundraisers. Aid to this situation isn’t out of my reach. Anyone in my community could help the cause, even without money. By organizing ways to make money, we can help these people suffering from genocide.

    The world is made up of relationships. Without the relationship of each single note in a chord, the piano harmony doesn’t produce such a wonderful effect on its audience. Humans have the same relationship. Without various groups around the world, the harmony of life isn’t the same. The relationships of those on this earth don’t connect so beautifully and therefore the entire earth changes. We are a web interconnected and when one group is destroyed by others, the entire web is affected by the change. Susan Rice, a Brookings Institute scholar and unofficial advisor to Barack Obama, said that her ideas come from the “profound conviction that we are interconnected, that poverty and conflict and health problems and autocracy and environmental degradation in faraway places have the potential to come back and bite us in the behind, and that we ignore such places and such people in our peril.” That is what makes it so important for anyone including me and those around me to help others in need all over the world, including others suffering from genocide. Not only for the good of helping people but to also help ourselves. What if every Jew in Germany during the Holocaust was killed? People like Elie Wiesel couldn’t share their love for life to the world. Great people who have helped so many others who were part of the holocaust of descended from those in the Holocaust would have never existed. Now imagine what could come out of Darfur and other areas that must face genocide and extreme poverty without the extensive aid of much richer nations such as the United States of America. Not only could great people come out of such places, but we can also prevent such issues from coming back and harming us by refusing the accept indifference.

This is precisely why I am responsible for the quality of life elsewhere around the world and why it matters so much that this life is cherished and respected. All people were born of the same species. One human being is no more of a being than the next so we must work together, form relationships, to aid those human beings that aren’t as well off. It is out duty to do it as humans to help others in our species. Not only to help the race as a whole but to help our own community. Because of this web of life, by avoiding problems around the world and even in our own community, so much is at stake.

    I know that I can help others because I am confident that I can contribute to fighting justice here and around the world. I know I am capable because I am capable of informing the public as well as well as contributing time and money to such causes. I know I am capable because I have hope that I can make a difference. As Barack Obama stated in the democratic convention keynote address in 2004, I am referring to such, “Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope. In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.” No matter what difference one person can make, they have the ability to hope and have the confidence to change the world. Those are the very people that do change the world. Those are the few who fight injustice around the world and I am confident that I, as well as those around me, are capable of such changes and improvements in our web of interconnectedness we call earth.