This isn’t my story or my friend but I just feel the need to share it. I greatly hope it makes an impact on your life. Written on April 28th
You don’t need me to tell you that this world can seem inexplicable at times. So much joy, so much sorrow – and every experience in between. But have you noticed a trend lately? As we are fed endless news streams of fear, we have grown accustomed to shaking our heads in disbelief – stunned by how extreme our views have become and somewhat paralyzed by what to do about it. We call upon our government to do something, we look to our politicians for action, we head to social media to voice our concern, but what difference does it really make?
Yesterday a young man filled with hate stormed into a synagogue in Poway, CA. My beautiful friend had come back from college to be with her parents and watched as her mother put herself in front of the rabbi to save his life. She died protecting him.
So much bravery. Such senseless hate.
This morning I saw the remarks from Rabbi Sacks about the shooting:
Just last week, as Jews gathered around their Passover tables to recount the story of our Exodus from Egypt, we read the passage of V’hi She’amda in which we recall how in each generation there have been those who have risen up against us and sought to deny the Jewish people’s right to exist. Tragically, this threat remains very real in our generation today.
The murder of Lori Gilbert Kaye z”l in the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego, California is but the latest in too long a list of recent antisemitic attacks on Jews and Jewish communities around the world. I am heartbroken at the loss of another Jewish soul and wish all those in mourning strength and comfort, and a complete and speedy recovery to those who were injured in this horrendous shooting.
Antisemitism has returned in part because of the rise of political extremism on the right and left, and because of populist politics that plays on people’s fears, seeking scapegoats to blame for social ills. For a thousand years Jews have been targeted as scapegoats, because they were a minority and because they were different. But difference is what makes us human. And a society that has no room for difference has no room for humanity.
The appearance of antisemitism is always an early warning sign of a dangerous dysfunction within a culture. This manifests itself in physical attacks or in other forms of attacks, for example in the media through the use of classic antisemitism images or rhetoric – the most recent example being the appalling cartoon which appeared in the international edition of the New York Times on Thursday and would not have looked out of place in 1930s Europe.
All of us – and especially the world’s leaders and those in positions of authority and leadership – need to make it clear why these physical or other kinds of attacks on Jews or people of any faith are utterly unacceptable. Not just because attacks on a particular group within society is morally wrong, but because of a fundamental and inescapable truth: that the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. And where there is hate, freedom dies.
We cannot ignore these dangerous trends or remain silent any longer. I know I can’t.
Each one of us has negative thoughts and beliefs. Who knows where they come from, but when we project our fears on another person, culture, religion or political belief, we are part of the problem.
When we make a group “the enemy” or even a target of our frustration, we are part of the problem.
When we drown our feelings in anger, or numb ourselves with substances, we are part of the problem.
Here’s what we can do, though…. Change ourselves.
It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”
We are the creators of our reality. If we wish to see a world filled with peace, abundance, kindness and connection, we must BE that presence each and every day.
That’s no small task, but what’s the alternative? More of the same.
So today, starting right now, how can you show up just a little brighter? What small gesture of grace and gratitude can do before you go to bed tonight? How can you speak to yourself with loving compassion instead of criticism?
Small acts create giant waves of change.
Let peace begin with you,