As a Jew taking the long view of history, I have come to the conclusion that it’s not wise to fight for something that can’t be saved. Fight where you can, but retreat and regroup when you’ve been outflanked. If my great-grandparents had gotten the notion in their heads that it was only a matter of time and people fighting for doing the right thing, they would have stayed in Europe, and they would have been killed. They would have lost. Forever. There’s a dignity and nobility in a Last Stand, but making a last stand where you don’t need to is pointless suicide.
I’m not saying that there is a danger of a Holocaust here. I’m not saying that the problems now single out Jews. However, the lesson of history is that sometimes things don’t get better. Sometimes they do, but it takes lifetimes and generations. But sometimes, it never happens. Civilizations fall. Societies crumble, and nothing worth living in springs from the ashes. Things go to hell and never come back.
One ray of hope is that Drumpf’s demographic skews older. One old fart funeral at a time, our country is probably getting better. I look at my kids in our and see how much more tolerant and accepting they are than we were at that age. This change is slow and it’s incremental, but it is positive.
But there are plenty of signs that we’re sunk.
There is still the conversion and indoctrination of the young to the selfish and jingoistic mindset of tRump, especially those who are seduced by the idea of American Exceptionalism. (Who wouldn’t want to be exceptional, especially if to be exceptional requires merely the luck to have been born in the right place at the right time?) We are far too militaristic, especially in a country where so few people serve. The pious sanctimony surrounding our armed forces prevents any useful discussion of how they should be used. We are far too religious. Religion as a double-edged sword that too often gets sharpened on only one side. We have denigrated science and research to the point where other countries will equal us and surpass us in the ability to do cutting edge innovation and investigation. This is a race where you can’t make up for lost time. The changes to our environment–caused by those who still subscribe to the antiquated idea that the highest and best good is determined solely by ascertaingin that which brings in the most money–have launched us down a dangerous road, and we can only slow that movement, not turn it back. We have large parts of the population who believe that gun ownership, not debate, not reason, not commitment to each other, is the most important foundation of a society. The USA is not the Last Best Hope of the World. We can be a leader in the way forward, but not without a commitment to see where we’ve gone off course. Currently, those in power do not have that commitment.
My iPhone gave up the ghost yesterday, which will definitely aid in giving my weary psyche a rest. I bought a replacement plan, but the phone is back-ordered, so I’m phoneless for a few days. I’ll survive.
The kids are with their mother this weekend, and do I miss talking to them. In their teenage distraction, they do NOT miss talking to me. I’m OK with that. I hope that they’re having fun.
The craziness continues.
This weekend the Republican Jewish Coalition is meeting in Las Vegas, at Sheldon Adelson’s (Jews We Wish Were Gentile) Venetian Den of Iniquity and Gambling Hall. Among the assholes that the RJC wishes to honor are Dick Cheney, whose qualifications are promoter of false intelligence, war profiteer, torture advocate and guilt-free accomplice in the death of over 4,000 American soldiers and marines and who knows how many civilians; Cheney’s evil homophobic spawn; and Mike Pence,champion of turning the United States into a Christian theocracy yet sell-out to perhaps the most un-Christian president in US history. FYI to Jewish Republicans: Christian theocracies have not been good to us. cf. Spanish Inquisition vs. Golden Age of Jewry in Spain.
Take a break, everyone. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
A Good 5775 to All of You!
Yes, 5775 years from Creation according to the Hebrew Bible. A short time, indeed, for the Grand Canyon, dinosaurs, the carving of the Great Lakes, etc!
Tough one to swallow in this day and age? You’re not just whistlin’ Dixie, buddy.
And get ready, ’cause for the next 10 days, you’re really gonna have that semitic noodle of yours twisted in a Gordian knot.
Why? Because we are,
once again, at
the most difficult time of the year.
That season when we Members of the Tribe are stuck in synagogues all over the world, wondering 1) when the cantor will finish and 2) just what in tarnation it means to be “One of the Chosen.”
A confession: I do not have faith. I find that not only can I not believe the information in the first paragraph of this post, there are a whole host of other things that are tougher to swallow than unrefrigerated gefilte fish.
Among those other things I do not believe:
1) That a Deity gave to Moses a law on Mt. Sinai,
2) That He also gave Moses both a Written Law and an Oral Law, and that the Oral Law was later codified in the Mishnah and the Gemara.
3) That the aforesaid Deity said “Don’t cook a kid in it’s mother’s milk” so that we had to eat off of different sets dishes for cheese and for chicken livers.
This time of year gets to be a pretty rough row to hoe, sometimes, especially since I have no intention of giving up being Jewish.
I have no problem co-existing with so-called People of Faith, at least when they are not passing discriminatory or theocratic laws, engaging in mass destruction, cutting off heads, waging jihad or or going on Crusades. All in all, I’d also rather they leave the nativity scenes off of public property, but in those cases no one is dying or even getting bruises, so I do my best just to look the other way and remember that in a few weeks all that red and green annoyance is going to be in garbage cans awaiting removal, and the United States will start getting ready for Presidents’ Day sales. Apparently, Big Religion is not going away, so I will have to console myself by the thought that a lot of the time POFs can be the world’s greatest neighbors. As I am unwilling to renounce my Judaism, either as culture, history, or as my personal choice of mysticism, I still voluntarily place myself in the midst of my coreligionists. Hell, my best friend, zichrono livrakha, became a POF in the last decade or so of his life, and he was truly a mensch. (He was a mensch, though, before his tshuva.)
However, when POFs want me to believe, I think that they fundamentally misunderstand their own faith. Say you’re dating someone, and then on the 3rd or 30th date, she says, “I love you.” You might think, OK, hmmm, what does that mean? Or you might think, Oh, I’m so happy! You may even blurt out, I love you, too! It’s possible though that you may instead think, Uh-oh, this is not going to end well. Imagine, in addition to that that the person making that confession adds on the imperative, “Love me! Love me like I love you!” Now you are really starting to get upset. Because while it is nice to be loved, being loved does not make you love. You can’t make yourself love someone. Neither can Bonnie Raitt.
Faith is the same thing. You can put hold a knife against someone’s throat, a gun to his head, his feet to the fire, but you can’t make him believe. You can make him say he believes, but it’s like that couple: you know you’re lying, she knows you’re lying, you know she knows, but for some reason–because it makes life easier at the moment–you just go ahead and say it. People who don’t believe are not going to believe no matter how many times they say it. The deed does not shape the heart. There are people who could go to church, synagogue, mosque, whatever for the rest of their lives, and no amount of prayer or observance is going to change the fact that they will not believe. They’re just not made that way.
So believe this, People of Faith, you do not want People Who Don’t Believe to say that they are believers. You do not want to consign them the 8th circle of Inferno. You do not want to require faith. Fortunately, we Jews have long tolerated the skeptics among us, and excommunicated heretics like Spinoza are paradoxically admired. I can dwell with the Believers, and we accept each other.
(Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself.I am large, I contain multitudes.)
PS: I am still hoping that G-d strikes Eric Cantor with the inability to speak.