Archive for July, 2015
While I would prefer to avoid the news of the day, co-hosting “Above The Fray” podcast twice a week and writing to this blog requires that I keep up on what’s happening, which includes not only reading news sites and other blog posts but also the comments that accompany them. The comments give insight into what the readers are thinking but also into what the manipulators are orchestrating.
Lately both the news, and the comments that accompany it, have become disturbing for two reasons: extreme intolerance and escalating hate. Both should be an alarm of sorts…warning us that something, or someone, is fueling the flames of conflict and division. We had better be alert to where it will lead and what precipitous actions we may be deliberately manipulated into taking out of fear.
It’s probably safe to say there are very few people who do not sense impending trouble. While no one is certain whether it will be by way of the economy, terror, war or natural disaster… something is definitely brewing. As with the onset of a storm, it’s as visceral as rapidly dropping barometric pressure. We feel it… without knowing what the it is.
“It” has many disguises but only one name: Evil.
In Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, it is taught that Satan is nothing more than doubt. Doubt that God exists. Doubt that God is good. Doubt in the healing, uniting and miraculous power of the Divine. For once you doubt God, your world becomes a breeding ground for evil. In a world of duality, in the absence of “good (read “God”) a space is created in which its opposite “evil” (read Satan”) can occupy.
I’m not saying that simply believing in God is the way to oppose a market crash, ISIL, war or an earthquake. What I am saying is that when you believe in a powerful, loving and engaged force, God, you tend to live more in joy than in fear. So that when a crisis arises, you are in a better mental and emotional state to be pro-active rather than being fearfully re-active.
Now, while I’m not sure how Gandhi did it with the British Empire, I have seen it work.
I once knew an Orthodox Rabbi from New York who was perpetually happy. He had the spirit of a playful child. He commuted two weekends a month by bus from New York to Southern New Jersey to officiate Sabbath ceremonies for a small Jewish community. He usually took a return bus to New York late Saturday night after the Sabbath ended which got him into the City after dark. He would then walk to his apartment several blocks away from the bus station.
One evening, as he began to walk home from the station, a gang of black youths began to follow him. The further he walked the more they gained speed until they caught up and surrounded him. They began to taunt him, making fun of his attire and his beard. True to his spirit, he remained joyful and smiling no matter what they said to him. Finally, one of the gang members pulled out a knife. It was pretty clear what their intentions were. But at that moment, when almost anyone else might have been terrified, the Rabbi began to sing and dance, trying to engage one of the gang members to dance with him! The youths were so incredulous that when one of them said, “This guy is crazy! Let’s get out of here” they all ran.
The Rabbi wasn’t crazy. Nor was he acting. He was living his life as he always did, joyful in his faith in God. The youths, who lived lives absent God, knew only how to have a fearful reaction. Perhaps the story is the microcosm of what Gandhi was able to do in the macrocosm. I’m not certain.
But if trouble is on the horizon, in whatever form, we would be wise to hold fast to belief and trust in the invincibility of faith over doubt, good over evil, and God over the forces that inhabit our world when we fail to remember where we came from, who we are, why we are here and who, precisely, has your back.
A desperate People are a dangerous lot and the uproar over Donald Trump is evidence of our desperation. However, to throw stones or worse, misperceive what all the hoopla is about, will lead the Nation into deeper waters than we currently tread.
More than half the country, and I venture a guess it’s more like three-fourths, are frustrated at best and angry at worst. For a variety of reasons, some having their roots in the far Left and others in the far Right…with a not insignificant percentage smack in the middle…we feel twice misled by the candidacy of Barack Obama. This is not to absolve us, the voters, of responsibility for our choice but rather to say out loud the unspeakable thought: Barack Obama had an agenda to transform our Nation into something un-American and desirable to him, yet unfamiliar and unrecognizable to us.
There is no time for blame. That time is long since passed and blame, in any case, is hindsight. We must look decidedly at the conditions of our present with clarity towards our intentions for the future. Unless we are prepared to understand and accept how we hungered for hope and change, we are destined (perhaps doomed) to now make a more egregious error than we did in 2008 and again in 2012.
For those of the far Left who think my choice of an analogy to the conditions of 1932 Germany that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler with the current popularity of Donald Trump is their dream post, your cause for celebration and glee is premature. My analogy is to the consciousness of the German people in 1932 that permitted an Adolph Hitler to rise to power, not to Hitler himself. The mindset of those people is not unlike the mindset of Americans today.
For those on the far Right and Middle, who would therefore anticipate that I am about to rally in support of Donald Trump would also be celebrating prematurely. Trump is tapping into, and giving voice to, the frustrations and anger of the majority but he is doing it poorly. The originator of the “art of the deal,” it turns out, is incredibly crass at articulating the deal.
Don’t kill the messenger.
Trump is substantively correct. We have ignored the law and the border at our peril. We have been on the losing side of every deal with every nation with whom we negotiate economic matters. We have alienated or abandoned our friends while exhibiting indecision and weakness to our enemies. We have allowed the founding documents and the Constitutional process to be demeaned and shredded before our very eyes while allowing corrupt and favor-beholden politicians to sell our interests to the highest bidder for their own personal gain.
Don’t kill the messenger.
Donald Trump is speaking truth to power. Speaking it poorly, and by so doing, allowing his detractors to make the issues bias, bigotry and comedy rather than giving the substance and truth of what Trump is bringing front and center the attention and consideration it warrants. As for Trump’s admirers, they are so caught up in the thrill of finally hearing someone say what we all know to be true, that they are blinding themselves to the dangers of how he is saying it.
I never blame Hitler. If blame resides anywhere it resides with a people so hungry, desperate and downtrodden as to throw caution and reason to the wind and follow a Pied Piper of Hate because he stood for something, however evil, at a time when all else had lost its meaning.
Today, marriage between a man and a woman is no longer what it has been for two thousand years. In fact, a man and a woman are no longer what they have been either. White is black if you “identify with it” as such. Assurances “you will see your health insurance premiums reduced $2500 per family” mean nothing. Working hard towards the American Dream is no longer hard…it’s impossible, with 93 million Americans out of the work force. A diseased and deranged mind is caused by a flag that needs to be abolished while dozens of youth gunned down, and gunning down, in Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore every weekend go unnoticed. Lies become truth because the liars say them often enough and we remain compliant.
Enter Donald Trump.
The appeal is the hubris. The unabashed admission of wealth so vast it can insulate him against the backlash of a corrupted system. The take-no-prisoners attitude. The one voice finally emerging on behalf of the many.
This is a dangerous and pivotal time for America. The easy out will be something akin to a dictator. A person who will tell you what is wrong, who’s to blame and why they are the one with the answer. The answer, in the long run, usually turns out to be oppression followed by enslavement. Jesus never said he had the answer. He said he found the way. The way is never easy and no one can do it on your behalf whether you are an individual or a Nation.
Our task is now twofold.
First, as individuals, we must live lives of impeccable integrity and service to one another. We need each other and there is no shame in that. I’ve always said that if we were meant to be alone, God could have just as easily placed each of us on our own planet. Instead, we are here together and as the saying goes, “united we stand.”
Secondly, as citizens of the greatest experiment in human freedom ever to grace this planet, to quickly and with resolve focus upon the responsibilities of citizenship. These responsibilities are to stand for what is right and lawful, to hold our elected representatives accountable to We The People, and to rise up when necessary to correct the course of events in order to preserve, protect and defend what so many before us gave their lives so that we might read and write posts such as this.