In this very slim book (which I read in a few hours) the author and diplomat, M. Hessel (a veteran of the French Resistance who survived torture at the hands of the Gestapo, Buchenwald concentration camp, and forced labor in a Nazi prison) speaks of the need for the citizen to be enraged at the prevailing inequities and injustices in today’s world and find a constructive means of striving to reaffirm the values his generation had enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and help build a better and just society. In other words, M. Hessel asserts that no-one can afford to be a spectator in these recessionary/reactionary times and continue to permit the undoing of basic political, human and economic rights.
M. Hessel, at 94, also acknowledges that “There are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This what I tell young people. If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference.”
Reading this book also brought into clear focus for me the following remarks from Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc., in a commencement address he made to the Stanford University Class of 2005: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. ...” M. Hessel’s book in this context is a clarion call for today’s generation to challenge the prevailing centrist/right-wing orthodoxy and neo-liberalism as his generation resisted and ultimately defeated Nazism.