Monday, January 12, 2015
WHAT A WEEK!!!!!!!! Remembering who we are and what we are supposed to be doing here in our world!
Where do I begin? Okay, what about here… “Je suis Charlie, je suis juif, je suis Ahmed.” This quote by Harvey Weinstein regarding the past week in France and the incredible assault on free speech and our basic freedom to believe, think and say as we believe captures so much of what is going on at this moment in time as we begin 2015. I am reminded by the events of this past week both internationally and even in my own personal life of the poem ‘The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden in 1951 – you remember that one, right? The Hangman comes to town to hang the Jew, the black, the communist, the homosexual, and everyone else while the bystander just looks on and does nothing, and then in the end, he too is hanged. It is chilling, terrifying, and way too real when we consider how an amazing historical reminder of a film called Selma is out during Ferguson and other cities of unrest; and free speech is being attacked in our world reminiscent of the book burnings of Krystallnacht and so many similar attacks through the Middle Ages and into present time. And of course, this is 2015!!!! Haven’t we evolved!?
We read in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) the following sentiment: What was will be and what will be was; those who say it is a new phenomenon were not paying attention the many times before the same thing happened. Or in the words of Frances Bacon and so many others who reformulated this thought (kind of like re-tweeting in today’s world), “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”
I have written here and elsewhere often as well as spoken about the fluid identity of our younger generation, their reluctance to claim allegiance to a specific ideology and just be. Can one wonder? I think clearly we are on to something, because these allegiances and our adherence to them are too often fulfilling the words of Ogden’s horrific prophecy.
Returning to France for a moment, do you know who Lassana Bathily is? I certainly hope so, and if not, you should. Lassana is a Muslim employee at the Kosher grocery where more people were killed in France this past week and hostages were taken. Due to his quick thinking and action, he was able to save many of the people who were in the store at the time by putting them in the walk in freezer and disconnecting the electricity so they would be alright until they could be ushered out. Here is a Muslim man who said, when he was interviewed, that "We are brothers. It's not a question of Jews, of Christians or of Muslims. We're all in the same boat, we have to help each other to get out of this crisis." Parenthetically it should be stated that when police first encountered him, he was arrested because they thought he was with the terrorists. Sadly, he understood and just stayed calm. Of course, now everyone knows what a hero and a human being (“mensch” if you will) he is!
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks teaches that we all have to work together to end this hatred. We have heard voices recently asking for mainstream Muslim sanctions against the extremist behaviors that we have seen too often in our world. I was looking at a montage of world events this past year and too often and in a disproportionately large amount, the horrors were related to Islamicists, whom we MUST distinguish from Muslims, who are people of faith and ethic like so many others in our world.
As Tom Lehrer taught in his own philosophical treatise penned as a popular song, this group hates that group and the other group hates this group and EVERYONE hates the Jews.
ENOUGH!!!! Let 2015 be a year of standing together with other peoples of faith and collectively protect our freedom to believe, write and think and just live! “Je suis Charlie, je suis juif, je suis Ahmed.”