Smart Bloggers, Smart Readers
August 11, 2006
Smart bloggers have smart readers.
The problem is we can’t celebrate the deaths of enemies any more. We suppress and deny the instinctual satisfaction of witnessing a human threat to our well being destroyed. We can feel that inherent, instinctual satisfaction and joy, and express it, when we avoid a serious auto accident, a fall down the steps or a bad storm. We can roar our approval as men on the football field batter each other and we can pay good money to see a boxing match, yet we cluck our tongues, intellectualize and pontificate when our enemies sell beheading videos by the gross. We have a disconnect, or perhaps it is better named magic, that tells us our religion and education and moral codes and ethics and rules of engagement and Geneva Conventions distinguishes us and makes us better than our enemies. Yet we can’t stop our enemies and it appears we cannot inhibit them from engaging in our deaths. Billions of dollars and several billion hours of human energy expended have not accomplished this. I wonder what the equation, the tally is for sustaining the disconnect? What percentage is used for death, what percentage for preventing death? We obsess with technology to remove us personally from the deaths of enemies visa-via long range strikes and drones and high altitude bombing and we have ‘rules’ that prohibit us from displaying bodies of killed enemies. Yet they continue to come for us. The disconnect has even fooled us into thinking we have just now foiled a plot to kill us when in truth it was but another attack, having caused disruption and some economic damage. This most recent attack has also caused us to spend more money for defensive posturing and it clearly spreads the message in the enemy camp that their mission is still alive and vibrant. We took the sacred out of our war, they haven’t. We have strongly suppressed the satisfaction of killing enemies, they haven’t. We secretly worry if we can again turn our swords to plow shears once unsheathed and bloodied, that there may be a point of no return, but our enemies know their survival is based on turning plow shears into swords.
Sinat Chinam …Baseless Hatred
Yesterday was a cloudy gray day here in the US on the west coast we didn’t see any sun until well after three in the afternoon. As is my custom I went in the afternoon to the market to get some fresh vegetables, and other things I needed to make ready for Shabbat. The lines were long, people were crankier than usual and just as I finished my shopping and got in line behind a half dozen or so other shoppers to wait to check out and old man got in line behind me. First he complained to the lady in the next line over about the price of things and how the price of gas now is driving up everything, then suddenly the lights in the huge grocery store went out…so the scenario was like this, no lights, no air conditioning, no checkout working, and no way to open the doors of the store to let those who simply wanted to leave to do so.
After several more minutes listening to this old man go on about everything being so awful I couldn’t take it anymore…” Mazieh, ze an akol beseder!” I stated it with as much vehemence as I could muster. Seeing that I had his attention, I changed to English.” First you complain about the prices, and the gas, then you complain about the cost of living and the expense to eat, no one forced you to come out shopping, it was your choice. You should be grateful to go to a store where there is too much of everything, you should be thankful that you can afford Strawberries at $3.00 a half pound. You are making the rest of us miserable just with your complaints!”
” Bah!” he shouted at me, ” I suppose you are going to get your food with welfare stamps that I pay for with my taxes. Look at this crowd more than three quarters of you aren’t even citizens of this country. I served in two world wars! God only knows where you all come from, but in my book you don’t belong here!”
“I have friend living in a war zone, without enough to eat, and barley getting by hiding every time the air raid siren goes off praying that the target isn’t them! You have no right to complain!”
“Dirty old bitch,” he shouted at me, “You should go back where you came from you and all the other black brown and tan people, you and the Jews”
That did it, another lady my age ( in her sixties) with two grandchildren in tow turned on him too, ” You think I am not a citizen” she shouted at him,” My husband served in the Air Force, our kids were born on Army bases, just because I have on an apron and look Hispanic doesn’t mean I am automatically illegal!”
From the next line over a very stunning African American woman spoke up,” My great-granddaddy was a slave, he worked his way to freedom so that we can have a good life, and he struggled every day for seventy five long years to make certain we knew the value of freedom. Something you sir don’t know!”
“Damit to hell” he shouted, you all are just leaches on our society.” Why when I was a youngster none of you would have dared to shop in such a store. We wouldn’t have let you!”
By this time the doors were working on the generator and he walked away leaving his cart in the line. Good thing because there is nothing worse then a bunch of ladies of color who are angry! He might have had to fight another war right there and then.
On the way home it set me to thinking, this is the month of Av, it’s a time when we reflect on things lost, and Sinat Chinam…baseless hatred. There is a lot of that going on in the world today, baseless hatred, it’s taught to little children in many of the countries of the mid east, if someone doesn’t act, talk, dress or worship exactly like you then you must hate them. In some places little children are taught that it is a great honor to blow yourself up with others around you if you take the lives of those who are ” not like us”.
Most of the wars in our modern world are fought over baseless hatred. Think about it?
There is an old saying that if it “squawks like a duck, waddles like a duck and has feathers like a duck …then it must be a duck!” Now if you are a hunter in the Midwestern United States that means you can shoot it during hunting season, and if you are an Arab Extremist and it’s a Jew that also means you can kill because you hate the Jews. What a very sad commentary on our world that we can’t get to a point where we accept that we are all human, created from the same gene pool, brought up out of the same murky quagmire of the ancient primordial swamp! There are geneses of human kind, like there are of plants and animals, all of us walk up right on two legs, all of us have five fingers and develop dexterity with them, we all are able to reproduce and feed our young on mother’s milk. Somehow we must begin to get a grip on the facts that the world is doomed if we humans can’t clean up our act.
As long as there are grumpy, bigoted old men in supermarket lines who think that the rest of the world would be a better place if there were only whites, or Aryans, as long as the Jews see the Muslims as “different, or less than” as long as humankind keeps placing tags of acceptable and unacceptable on other human beings there can never be peace!
The mid-east tensions continue to rise as I write, who knows where this war will lead humanity, into the end perhaps, if there can’t be peace in the mid east soon than there may be another third world war, quite possibly this will be the war that ends all wars…and where did it all start?
Sinat Chinam…baseless hatred!
I intend this next portion of my writing to challenge you as an individual to try to come into a space where you can think about all the baseless hatreds that you know of in your own little circle of life and once you identify them try in the best way you know how to set them right. I have in Israel a dear friend who is in a town in the north where the bombing has been intense…she wrote an article about being on a rollercoaster into the end of times and how until everyone on that roller coaster could find their code for the button in their hand the rollercoaster would continue on its course of destruction. There are prophecies in many of the world greatest religions that speak to the times that we are now in, and it would seem that everyone of us indeed has a part to play in the slowing down of the roller coaster, that we all have the power to make change right where we are, right now and that if we all worked very hard on doing that we might be able to cause a slowing of the escalation to world war that we are in.
Peace isn’t any unattainable goal, there was a time when there was peace on this little blue planet, when the seas were new and pristine when the animals and birds and other creatures were not endangered, a time when there was everything we needed to live, but we humans, who are supposed to be sentient beings ruined that.
We, like the little old man in the supermarket line couldn’t see that we were blessed, we wanted more, we became acquisitive in our nature and we began to take that which we did not need…we stole from nature, the waters, the trees, the oil, the minerals and precious stones, we made big mistakes thinking that this little blue planet could last forever. Now we are on the brink of destruction such as man has never known before, one slip of the finger, one nod of the head and the big guns some out and here we go World War Three.
We Jews are a hopeful people, we cling to life even when there are those set on extinguishing that life, the Christians all love life too, so do the Muslims, and other religions of the world, now if ever this is the time for us all to come together in Peace and love, learning again to trust each other as human beings. Never doubt that what you do in your own little circle to make peace can’t help the world, it can! If each of us finds just one person with whom we can make a bond and if we turn out attention to the things that are all the same in both of us, forgetting our difference, we can stir the waters and make the ripples flow out from us to touch others. Time is of the essence right now, we have no more time to fight among ourselves, no more time to be bitter and hateful, dishonest or unjust! If Peace is every to come to this planet it will come because enough of us in our own small way try to make it a reality where we live!
I was thinking yesterday of the old Eagles song “In a New York Minute everything can change!” That is the minute we are living in, the minute when we switch the channel and suddenly there is the bomb no one wanted to see ever again in life…the bomb to end all bombs. Then it will be too late!
Think about this, do you know a Muslim, or a Jew, or someone of another culture or another faith in your neighborhood? Have you tried to make friends with them, do you know their names? How about reaching out of your comfort zone just a little, what about the strange old lady who sits in the back pew of the church and always leaves before coffee, why not catch up with her and ask her to stay, get out of your comfort zone and reach for someone who seems unlovable, stretch as bit and go over to the neighbor and ask how they are doing.
If we don’t all start trying this whole mess in the Middle East between Israel and Lebanon could become Armageddon, the place where they are fighting at the border in the north of Israel and the south of Lebanon is near Megiddo, the very place where the prophets said the war to end all wars would be wagged. I have walked there with my husband, we saw that ground and it made us tremble, to see how the war is being fought right there is a frightening thing! “In a New York Minute, everything can change!”
We sentient, conscious human beings need to make ourselves heard above the roar of this war, we need to stand up and be counted as trying to make change before it is too late.
The Democrats have gone from the party of Robert F. Kennedy to the party of Sirhan Sirhan.