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Story: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.” That is a famous quote by the late Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel, a Romanian-born, American-Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He authored 57 books, written mostly in French and English, including “Night,” a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, where he lost his parents and younger sister. Sadly, his charitable foundation and personal estate were also victimized financially by the scandalous Bernie Madoff. However, as with every other incredible life challenge experienced, the venerable Wiesel shrugged it off and took us all to a higher plain of understanding regarding the human condition. If you want a greater insight into Wiesel the humanist, listen to this podcast with Oprah.
Key Point: The reason I connect Wiesel to the world of organization culture and leadership is a tribute to his prime message, which goes far beyond the eternal horror of the holocaust. Wiesel’s most urgent plea was to guard us against INDIFFERENCE. And there are many emerging forces that can feel beyond our reach and make indifference more seductive.
Based on the premise above, I strongly urge you to read Yuval Noah Harari’s powerful new book, 21 Questions for the 21st Century. The author notes: “My new book will aim to answer the overarching question: what is happening in the world today, what is the deeper meaning of these events and how can we individually steer our way through them? The questions I aim to explore will include what the rise of Trump signifies, whether or not God is back, and whether nationalism can help solve problems like global warming.”
Bill Gates reviews Harari’s book in this past Sunday’s New York Times, offering this assessment: “What does Harari think we should do about all this? Sprinkled throughout is some practical advice… Life in the 21st century demands mindfulness – getting to know ourselves better and seeing how we contribute to suffering in our own lives. This is easy to mock, but as someone who’s taking a course on mindfulness and meditation, I found it compelling.”
Personal Leadership Moves:
- More than ever, as we see this disruptive convergence between Artificial Intelligence and Bio Science turn every assumption about work and living upside down, each of us must actively engage in the process of creating cultures and workplaces we desire! (And when you read “21 Questions,” it will make you shake your head a little).
- We cannot allow avoidance and indifference to become our default position in a world where the rich technological “haves” overwhelm the rest of us as the “have nots.” We all have a voice, and deeply caring about each other as people first will help us find the best paths forward!
No Indifference in Personal Leadership,
One Millennial View: Interesting. I think we’d be lying if we were to say it wasn’t easy to be indifferent about many things. That said, I think it plays to the respect aspect of this blog to give due attention what we are indifferent about, ask ourselves why, and revisit the question.