Thinking Higher, Feeling Deeper: Honoring Elie Wiesel

July 2, 2017

By Dov Seidman

Today marks one year since the passing of Professor Elie Wiesel.

To me, and certainly to countless others, Elie Wiesel was a, if not the moral conscience of our world. Professor Wiesel said that “words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the status of deeds.” His morally courageous and truthful words in so many moments of consequence – especially when in the face of hatred or persecution – transformed into deeds that made our world more just and human.

Soon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace, Professor Wiesel and his wife, Marion, established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. In 1989, the Foundation introduced the Prize in Ethics Essay Contest, inviting students to submit essays on the urgent and complex ethical issues that confront us in the modern world. On subjects ranging from the ethics of national loyalty to the war on drugs, from the nature of evil to the role of silence in a divided America, thousands of students have answered Professor Wiesel’s indelible exhortation “to think higher and feel deeper,” considering ethical issues at the most intellectually formative time of their lives.

At LRN, it has been our profound privilege to be the exclusive sponsor of the prize for more than a decade, and to partner with the Foundation and work closely with Marion Wiesel to reach and recognize a generation of young ethical leaders. Through the prize, a generation has come of age asking deep, probing questions and viewing the world through a moral lens. At a time when truth and trust – the twin pillars of our society and democracy – are under assault, and when so many of our leaders in positions of formal authority lack moral authority, these qualities of ethical leadership are needed more than ever. It’s why my colleagues and I at LRN remain dedicated to the prize and to the spirit in which it was founded. That we have found such commonality of purpose and mission between our work at LRN and the work of the Foundation has been a deep source of significance.

A year after Elie Wiesel’s passing, his boundless humanism continues to inspire. May his call “to think higher and feel deeper” also endure. It certainly will for me.

Originally published on LinkedIn

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