Etty Hillesum

Let it Begin With Me

“Ultimately we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace these is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.” -Etty Hillesum

 I came of age in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a time of great social unrest in this nation. Peace was the word on every young person’s lips, mine included.  I was in my mid-teen’s during those years, just feeling my oats, using the written word to penetrate a lifelong shell of mild-mannered shyness.  As editor of our school paper, I called for student participation in the Moratorium, a nationwide walkout to protest the Vietnam War.  I encouraged my history teacher to assign letter writing to our elected officials in which we could express our views on civil rights, the Arab-Palestinian conflict, the War. Because I had always been a “good girl,” and had always stayed within the bounds of good grades and good behavior, my teachers were very generous with their support. 

In those years, I read the newspaper every day, watched the TV news with combinations of excitement and righteous indignation. I yearned to be one of those marching, carrying signs, making an outward statement. But my young age, my sheltered life, my innate introverted nature  - all of those things kept my emerging activism at bay. I spent several years in a state of perpetual inner agitation, relieved only by my incessant writing about it.