This Monday morning, I spent about 50 minutes trying to convince a group of 12 students, 18-20 year olds, that they should share the moral philosopher Philip Hallie’s outrage about Nazis torturing Jewish and Gypsy children… almost 70 years ago… and that they should enter into his professional concern — his puzzlement — over the mere existence of those rare resistors who showed compassion to strangers at the time in the French village Le Chambon sur Lingon. For the most part I seemed to have trouble breaking through the apathy, the blank stares, the lack of a personal connection to the issues that he was working on; this was so even when I asked them to imagine their own children, or their neighbors’ children, as the victims. But, none of us feel any real outrage about the atrocities that human beings have so frequently perpetrated. It’s a long history of outrage, of the deeds of “manunkind.” Why should we care? It’s all so much for a Monday morning. And it’s “Cyber Monday” after all. Time to consume.
See Philip Hallie, “Magda and the Great Virtues”.