Wiesel Taught Me How To Walk This Way

Kevin - Albany, New York
Entered on April 21, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the power of a greeting, and its impact on a friend or even a stranger. Once, Professor Bloss assigned my class to read Elie Wiesel’s The Gates of the Forest. As we read we were supposed to be examining the novel for its multiple conceptual gems. As we reviewed the book, I found one conceptual gem overwhelming. “He will have no face, because he will have a thousand faces. The Messiah isn’t one man, Clara, he’s all men.” (Wiesel p. 225)

I understood that Wiesel thought that within each individual lies the potential to transform someone’s life. The idea was that individuals have the power to elevate others, and save them almost as like a religious Messiah. To me this gave me a new perspective, as it strayed away from the idea that Messiahs were not only prophets like Jesus Christ or Muhammad but they were the many people who I encounter every day. After class, I began to scan people and observe their actions. As my observations carried on, I lost all faith in the idea that all people were Messiahs. I looked around, even in media outlets such as newspapers and read many alarming article titles and thought about what this world was coming to. At that point as a 19 year old confused college student I figured maybe we do need a “real” Messiah to come and save us.

Disappointed with visions of depressing headlines and misunderstandings of life I walked to my dorm, and as I did so I passed one of my introductory class professors. In such a large introductory class, I didn’t expect her to know my individual name, let alone my face. So I walked down the pathway with my i-pod on low, took out my cell phone to act as if I was being texted by my non-existent girlfriend, and glued my face to the ground just to avoid contact. To my surprise, I heard a voice with a warm greeting through the sound waves in my headphones. I immediately responded to her greetings, and we continued on our separate paths. A few steps later I took a sudden halt.

It was at that point I realized that maybe there is a possibility that we as “ordinary” humans have the potential to be Messiahs. I was in a down mood and confused about the people of our times, but just by my professor’s hello she was able to lift my mood from negative to positive. At that point she was able to save my day by recognizing me as an individual, and providing me with help in understanding that we can guide each other.

Though she may never know the transforming power she unleashed at that moment, her simple greeting was enough to guide me that day. So let it be known that a simple greeting may not mean much coming from the speaker, but it sure can transcend others. Therefore, making an attempt to acknowledge an individual is one of many steps towards becoming a Messiah.