“Let us not forget, after all, that there is always a moment when the moral choice is made. Often because of one story or one book or one person, we are able to make a different choice, a choice for humanity, for life.” - Elie Wiesel
Please write an essay responding to Wiesel’s quote in 500 words or less. What story, book, or person has influenced your thinking about ethical decision making? What has it taught taught you about how you can participate as a caring, thoughtful citizen in the world around you?
Sadly, in today’s world, your may face obstacles of increasing difficulty until you can’t survive. Hunger. Homelessness. War. They all push people to the brinks of survival, and over the edge. Worse than all of these combined, is terrorism. No one sees it coming, and it is sometimes random. It doesn’t seem like a very serious issue until it happens to you, and it happened to me. My cousin was killed in a terrorist attack in Munich, Germany*. She died a few months before her fifteenth birthday.
I’m only thirteen, and her sudden death frightened me. Only having met her two or three times as a child, I felt guilty. Never would I talk to her again. Never would I see her smile, or frown. It changed my perception of many things, The Book Thief being one of them.
What once seemed like another generic story about the horrors of World War II became a story about a girl who was surrounded by the worst problems at the time, and lived. A girl who enjoyed her childhood during one of the deadliest times in history. Who went out there and changed a man’s life. Who ultimately grew up and enjoyed her life after realizing how quickly it could be taken from her. Tenacity, the act of surviving, became a big deal to me. If Liesel could do it, why couldn’t I? I did not only want to survive, I wanted to live.
Seeing friends and relatives, I tried to steer everyone away from fights and arguments, because if something happened, I didn’t want them to regret it. Hugging people when we separated, starting conversations with strangers in the elevator, I matured and overcame my extreme shyness. My choice was to be optimistic, positive, and as regret-free as possible. I do admit I became a bit paranoid and went a little over the top trying to stop even friendly arguments, but I’ve realized they are a core part of friendships.
Elie Wiesel’s quote speaks to me. It is not always one book or one person who changes you for the better. A combination of endless people, events, books and places affect us every day and change our lives in so many different, immeasurable ways. Now I live each day, enjoy each moment like it is my last. I feel happier and enjoy more of life this way, and in part, it is because of terrorism. We all know terrorism will continue to plague us and is nowhere near extinction. But just because it won’t end soon doesn’t mean you have to live in fear. Yes, my cousin was taken away, but in the end, she changed so many people and things, even if they haven’t realized it yet. What separates me from them is that I already have.
*The terrorist attack occurred on July 22, 2016.