In a way, to be indifferent to suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can, at times, be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony, one does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times, may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it, you disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response.
Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, 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. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees- not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.
Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment. And this is one of the most important lessons of this outgoing century’s wide ranging experiments in good and evil.—
“‘The Perils of Indifference” by Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor
East Room, White House, April 12, 1999