Book review on “A Time for Outrage: Indignez-vous!” by Stepane Hessel


In recent years, there have been numerous campaigns in the United States to “Rock the Vote!” Voting is one way to have a voice in the issues and policies addressed by a Democratic government that directly affect a citizens’ quality of life. What happens when voting does not seem to be enough?

When U.S. economic conditions deteriorate, politicians (and the public they represent) tend to divide priorities between money and people. Quite often, the welfare of the most impoverished people suffers. These are the times when human rights and freedoms become the most threatened.

At nine chapters and 41 pages, “A Time for Outrage: Indignez-vous!” by Stepane Hessel is a pamphlet on human rights. Hessel, 93, offers a unique historical perspective as a heroic figure who fought with the French Army in WWII, escaped two concentration camps, helped to create the French Resistance and was a drafter of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Time for Outrage” is his overview of the problems, while not offering any solutions. The pamphlet revolves around the war and the start of French social programs in the 1940s. It is the current reduction of these programs that cause him to speak.

However, you do not need to be French to relate to the issues and attitudes Hessel highlights. He writes within the text, “It is the duty of us all to ensure our society remain one of which we are proud, not a society wary of immigrants and intent on their expulsion or a society that disputes the welfare state or a society in which the media are controlled by the wealthy.”

Hessel’s passion and urgency definitely transcend off of the page and into the mind of the reader. This is a message for all to take notice and act upon the infractions of these rights occurring in our own societies, both locally and globally. It is a demand for the current generation to stop being indifferent and become vocal and engaged citizens who “look around … and find themes to justify indignation.” Hessel believes outrage and action remain necessary to maintain basic freedoms.

It cannot be simply overlooked that a man, almost a century old, has not lost his courage to speak and fight for justice.

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