January 17th marks the day that Raoul Wallenberg was captured by the Soviet Army and never heard from again. Although his death remains a mystery, the lessons we must learn are those that Raoul Wallenberg demonstrated while living. As a Swedish diplomat in Budapest he is credited with rescuing 100,000 people from prosecution and almost certain death. He issued thousands of Swedish passports to Jews granting them protection from the Nazis. Under the Swedish flag Wallenberg bought 30 buildings in the Budapest Ghetto in which he opened soup kitchens, hospitals and schools as well as a special shelter for some 8,000 children whose parents had already been killed or deported. He also drove alongside Nazi death marches handing out food to the women and children who certainly would not have survived otherwise. Raoul Wallenberg chose to risk and ultimately gave his life to save others and do justice.
Today we all have the opportunity to make our voices heard. We must ensure we speak up for and act on our beliefs. Take the time to take action on issues that are important to you, be it anti-Semitism in Canada or threats to Israel from Iran and others, contact your representatives in government and support those who share your beliefs. Raoul Wallenberg could have been passive and done nothing about the atrocities being committed in front of him but he was not. If Raoul Wallenberg could stand up in the face of such adversity and act then our generation has no excuse to not be politically engaged. On January 17th think of what Raoul Wallenberg went through to make a difference, and then think about how easy it is for you to take action.
Political Science student (University of Victoria) and CJPAC intern