Faith Lost During Night

Upon reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, my attention was brought to the irony of faith during the Holocaust.  Throughout Wiesel’s account, he addresses his stance on faith and in the beginning his faith is strong and he strives to be a well practiced Jewish follower.  As the Holocaust progresses and Wiesel starts his journey to becoming fully involved with the Holocaust, he starts to question his faith among many other things.  Essentially, being Jewish is what has gotten him into the place he is in and it becomes evident that it is very hard for him to keep believing in the same God he thought existed in his pre-Holocaust life because of the ways in which he is suffering.  Weisel tries to hold onto his faith throughout the massacre of his people. He says,

“I had new shoes myself. But they were covered with a thick coat of mud, they had not been noticed. I thanked God, in an improvised prayer, for having created mud in His infinite and wondrous universe” (38).

Although he is being treated harshly, he is holding onto his faith in God and is still praising the world in which God created, even though the Nazis have created a living hell on earth, Wiesel is still searching for reliance on a higher power.

In 2006, a study was conducted by the army times to poll soldiers currently fighting in the Iraq war about their involvement in the war. It was found that: “83% of GIs polled by the newspaper thought that success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number had declined to 50%. Only 41% of soldiers polled today think that we should have invaded Iraq–down from 65% in 2003. This closely mirrors sentiment among civilians; only 45% of whom now believe that the war was a good idea” (Army Times). Although this does not reflect losing faith in a higher power, it does address that many soldiers today are losing faith in their country, and in their leader to finish the war, and draw peace from it.

Additionally, I took a look at the organization called “Iraq Veterans Against the War.” Here, there is a haven for anyone who joined the military after 9/11 is allowed to join and voice their opinion of the war and why they feel it needs to come to an end. I read several interesting accounts from veterans opposing the war, but one reminded me very much of Elie Weisel and his feelings during the Holocaust.

Cameron Halas writes, “If there was one thing that turned me against the war it was my faith in God” (Halas).  He goes on to discuss why God does not teach his people to fight, but rather helps his people to learn to accept differences and live together in harmony. He explains that as an American fighting for freedom, why is he not defending the right of Muslims in Iraq to practice being Muslim.  After all, being an American is a privilege because we are allowed to practice whatever religion we want, however we are oppressing Muslim people.  Halas implies that he began to feel guilty for fighting the war without following God’s teachings, so he began to focus more on why this conflict was happening and he included the teachings of God as his guide.  He continues his argument by saying that God said,  “‘Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God’ You can’t keep making excuses for one or the other, its either God or the War” (Halas).

I think this account draws on an interesting opinion of a soldier that is not the patriotic hero which often entertains our thoughts of military personnel.  Halas, like Weisel led a life that was based on is faith.  During tough times they both turned to God, but found that religion and faith as they had known it before the Holocaust and the Iraq war could not longer exist. They had to modify their beliefs to coincide with the religion their lives functioned around.  Weisel began to doubt whether there really was a God, and if so why was he not stopping the ungodly attacks against his people. Similarly, Halas realized that if he was to follow God’s teachings, he would have to change his opinion about the war, by opposing the occupation of iraq and searching for answers that could help him internalize he conflicts. These similar ideas of faith and how war forces individuals to question faith and their belief in God.


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