May 27, 2022
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am tired. I am angry. I am frustrated. I am disappointed. I am disgusted. I feel as though I’ve reached my patience threshold!
How many times can we send each other emails sharing our condolences, praying for one another’s strength through trying times, consoling bereaved families with no possible explanation for the innocent lives lost?
Friends, if you think what follows is going to be about gun policies and our need to fix them, let me be clear, it is not. Yes, they are outdated, yes, they need to be addressed, and yes, we need serious solutions to this issue. However, this column is about something else. It’s about a deeper, more immediate, and underlying challenge from where guns, weapons, murder, hatred, and even genocide originate… our systemic inability to agree to disagree.
Mainstream society, not the outliers nor extremists, but the average daily citizen has somehow lost the ability to openly discuss with another “normal” human being any topic on which they might disagree. This basic human form of communication has disappeared from our society. If our role models exude such anger and even hate toward one another, how on earth are our children expected to learn that it’s ok to have differences of opinion?
Honestly, I ask you, when was the last time you had a civil, dare I say respectful, conversation with someone else, with whom you disagreed? Did you try to change their perspective? Did you get angry with their position? Did your heart rate and body temperature increase? This is the starting line for fixing any of our current social challenges.
Today I am calling on all my colleagues, our elected officials, our religious leaders, our community role models, and on anyone and everyone who is out there, to please look in the mirror and commit to making a change in the person who is staring right back at you. We must stop surrounding ourselves within the echo chambers of those who simply think, feel, and believe like we do, and begin to create a space where we can listen to one another’s perspectives and not dig in.
Our elders need to respect our youth’s idealism. Our youth need to appreciate our elders’ experience and wisdom. Both our politically right and politically left need to listen and try to understand from where the other side is coming. Our politicians need to behave like the elected representatives we need in office right now. Our news media need to regroup and ask themselves if they are meeting their journalistic integrity or sensationalizing events for corporate profit.
This week’s Torah portion Bechukotai opens with a promise from Gd and concludes with a list of pledges from the people. Let us all choose one commitment this week, one promise, one pledge, one vow, that we will not be part of the problem. That we will become part of the solution. Because if we chose to move in this direction, we will be…