How many times to do we have to hear advice until we follow it? Are you guilty of knowing what is good for you but not doing it? Or knowing the right thing to do and not acting on it?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve read a variety of texts ranging from short stories to poems to speeches with my students. For the most part, I get to read the same text with several classes, so the text’s wisdom usually becomes more memorable.
Today, I want to share 3 texts that have stood out to me because of their wisdom.
1. Elie Wiesel’s “The Perils of Indifference”
In Elie Wiesel’s speech “The Perils of Indifference”, Wiesel covers the topics of indifference and inhumanity. What stood out to me about this speech is the role of the bystander.
Whether it’s a bystander who observes bullying and does nothing to help the victim or a nation who fails to provide asylum to foreign refugees, the topic of indifference comes to the surface when people don’t intervene when others are suffering and need help. Wiesel concludes that “indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor–never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten”.
2. “The Talking Skull” – A Fable from Cameroon
In the story “The Talking Skull”, a man in a village is known for talking nonsense. When he has worthy news to share with his village, that of finding a talking skull, no one believes him.
When it’s time to show the village proof of his discovery, the talking skull refuses to talk in front of the villagers. This leaves the man looking like a fool again. The theme of this story is that one should think before speaking and not talk nonsense, so that one doesn’t lose people’s trust.
3. Shel Silverstein’s “Growing Down”
Lastly, in the poem “Growing Down” by Shel Silverstein, grumpy and old Mr. Brown transforms into a child-like Mr. Brown who draws, eats ice cream, giggles, and runs “barefoot in the rain”.
The theme of this poem is that one should stay young at heart as one grows older instead of become grumpy.
To sum up the effect of gaining wisdom from reading, I find myself wondering how many times do we have to hear the same piece of advice or the same quote full of wisdom for it to finally inspire us to spring into action or adopt a value?
Does it mean that we have learned from the past? Does it mean that society has changed? Has the human being become less indifferent and more human? Have we really learned from our experiences?from Elie Wiesel’s “The Perils of Indifference”