THE POWER OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT. THANK YOU MR. HESSEL

 HOMMAGE TO STEPHANE HESSEL AT THE MEDIAPART MEETING ON THE 7TH OF FEBRUARY AT THE THÉÂTRE DE LA COLLINE IN PARIS

 

HOMMAGE TO STEPHANE HESSEL AT THE MEDIAPART MEETING ON THE 7TH OF FEBRUARY AT THE THÉÂTRE DE LA COLLINE IN PARIS

He is here on this night of the 7th of February 2011 at theThéâtre de la Colline, standing onthe stage surrounded by his friends : he has answered the call of EdwyPlenel and the call of history. Here is this frail old man, looking rather fragile, slightly bent, bearing on his shoulders, like a wounded but defiantAtlas, all the weight of the horrors of the twentieth century : two WorldWars, the Shoah, Hiroshima, Palestine’s tragedy, the Lebanon torn apart, Iranunder oppression, the 11th of September, the war in Irak and in Afghanistan.The sufferings and trials he has endured and overcome have made himtransparent. Through him shines the power of the human spirit, the will tostand up, to be angry, to resist and to act against the destructive forcesthreatening the humanity in man now reduced to the size of his own unbridledconsumerism, his greed and cupidity, his fear of need and of other men. Thisman is a visionary who has understood that the survival of the planet isthreatened by the uncontrolled growth of globalisation. Man’s fate cannot bedivorced from that of the earth, their destiny are intimately linked. This manis possessed by an inner fire which glows through him, reaching out inthrilling waves of sympathy to the audience who, in turn, responds to the powerof his own burning convictions.

 

His words are simple, clear and direct, they comestraight from the heart. One can sense their physical impact on the tensepublic who returns it to him in recurring waves of love and resoundingapplause. A new hope is born,rises and fills the whole theatre borne on the wings of the emotion he creates.At the end of a life spent at the service of France and of mankind, StéphaneHessel fights his last battle, perhaps his most perilous one,proclaiming : Beangry ! He has faced the Nazioccupation, has been emprisonned and confronted death in its starkest reality,now he stands against a more insidious and perfid evil, the cancer of ourcontemporary society : the selfishness of utter indifference. Its attacksthe human mind weakened by decades of selfish and irresponsible highliving and loose spending, withouta thought for the future which now does not appear so rosy.

 

At the end of the Second World War together with hiscompanions of arms he had contributed through social reforms at better conditions and a higher standardof living. He had worked in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at creating a fairer world where the threat ofwar and barbarism would disappear. It is an ideal he wants to communicate tocontemporary society : tokeep alive and transmit the Resistance’s heritage and its ideals of social,economic and cultural democracy still relevant today. He quotes the word of the French philosopherJean-Paul Sartre : To become a Man one must assume ones’own responsabilities in the world. Stéphane Hessel does all this with loveand with humour, with the elegant touch of the lightheartedeness of those whohave faced and survived the unthinkable and the unbearable.He has the inner strength of those who havesurvived through the power of their indomitable spirit because, he says in hisautobiography Dance with the century, he feels himself Beloved of theGods.

 

Tonight he is at the crossroads of history surrounded byhis friends, the philosopher Edgar Morin, the economist Claude Alphandéry, bothengaged with him in the awakening of a new world consciousness in order toensure the survival of the earth andof mankind. Edgar Morin quotes in his new book The Way, the words of the German poet FriedrichHölderlin : Where peril grows, salvation also grows. Tonight the vagaries of history beartestimony to the three experienced men’s hope and faith. Edgar Morin, whoadvocates a process of metamorphosis in order to avoid the ultimate disaster,has recommanded : To think the Mediterranean and to mediterraneaniseone’s thinking.

This fecundand fecundating Mare nostrumhas brought to the shores of Northern Europe the luminous philosophy of Greekhumanism which the conquering genius of Rome spread far and wide. It has alsobrought the mysticism from the East in the Persian and Egyptian myths, themonotheism of Judaism and of Christianity, the civilizing refinement of theArab courts which European troubadours emulated. They all are the foundingstones of our occidental culture.

 

Tonight awind of change blows from beyond the Mediterranean, a new awareness thrills andtransports hearts and minds. From Tunis to Cairo, like and invisible ferment,Stéphane Hessel’s words seem to have brought his influence to bear upon the newdevelopments. Be angry ! hasbeen heard, since the suicide by fire of a young desperate Tunisian man hasbeen the signal of an uprisal, the start of a tidal wave which has spread andnow engulfs the whole of the Near and Middle East. The Arab people rebelagainst injustice and oppression. Thus they have come at Edwy Plenel’s call tobear witness around Stéphane Hessel. They are the bearers of a new hope, thatof a bloodless revolution. Moncef Marzouki, a Tunisian opposed to the Ben Alirule and for many years a political exile. Radhia Nasraoui, a laywer,representative of the political prisonners tortured in Tunisia. Darina Al-Joundi, the Lebanese actresswho campaigns for freedom in the Arab world. Mahmoud Hussein, the nom de plumeof two Egyptian writers, Adel Rifaat et Baghat Elnadi. Elias Sanbar,Palestine’s ambassador at UNESCOThey all speak of the political renaissance of the Arab people, of theircourage and dignity. They are their strength and their arms in the fight tomake this miracle happen, a bloodless revolution.

 

The audiencelistens to them in heavy and respectful silence, tears welling to their eyes.Then the clapping starts, gets louder, an homage at these men and women who areprecursors and show the way in their own life’s dedication, the path they havechosen, their everyday fights. The standing ovation carries on for a longtime, the public cannot let them leave the stage. A new dawn has risen at theEast and the power of the human spirit has triumphed. The anger hasmetamorphosed in resistance and action. No one and nothing will stand in itsway, history is on the making.

 

In Paris,where for too long now has reigned hypocrisy, lies and falsehood in thegovernment’s communication, social injustice and realpolitik machinations, aman has stood up in anger. He bears high the torch for the French standards ofjustice, freedom and solidarité. A man has the courage and audacity to denouncethe unacceptable. The French people recognize him, hail him, and find again hope and dignity.

In their turnthey feel anger, resistance and action cannot be far away. Thank you Mr. Hesselto show the Way, and once more to be the torch-bearer of France’s honour.

 

MONIQUERICCARDI-CUBITT

www.arcadiamundi.eu

 

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