Amos Oz: The teaspoon is very small and the fire is very large but there are many of us and everyone - 92Y, New York

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92Y Confronts Hate

An Urgent Examination of the Rise of Hatred in America

Amos Oz: The teaspoon is very small and the fire is very large but there are many of us and everyone of us has a teaspoon

Nov 14, 2016

Amos Oz offers a powerful response to an audience question about what we can do in the face of injustice.

Jonathan Williams: “Considering the leaders empowering countries around the world, one wonders what should we do now? In light of this, do you believe that art can change the world?”

Amos Oz: “Well, you know, what can we do now? I have a problem with the word “we.” Who exactly are we in this question? What could we do about the present situation? I have some problem with the word we here because I don’t know exactly what the person who asked the question means by we. I’ll tell you what I do. I do what I can. The fire, the flames are big and horrific. Everyone of us has to choose confronting a big fire. You can run for your life and leave those who can not run to burn, because unfortunately they can not run. You can write an angry letter to the editor blaming those who started the fire. But you can also take a bucket of water and pour it on the fire. And if you don’t have a bucket, use a glass or a cup. And if you don’t even have that, use a teaspoon. Everyone of us has a teaspoon. Fill it with water and throw it in the fire. The teaspoon is very small and the fire is very large but there are many of us and everyone of us has a teaspoon. That’s my simple answer to this question. I do what I can as a teacher, as a writer, as a neighbor, as a citizen to pour some water on the flames of hatred and incitement and fanatacism and bigotry and prejudice. I have words and I use words. My words are my teaspoon. This is what I can do. What can you do? What can the person who asked the question do? This is a question only you can answer. But I can tell you, there is something you can do. Something you can do. I know that. I don’t know what it is, but there is something everyone one of you can do. Do it.”

Watch the full talk.

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