I don’t know about you, but this week has been so ridiculously busy/chaotic/crazy/stressful, I could definitely use some Friday Vibes in my life. On top of my own personal challenges, like looking for a place to live, buying a car, planning a huge event, starting a company and balancing multiple jobs, there is a lot going on a much larger scale that has been on my mind as of late. I tend to steer my writing away from being politically oriented, but with everything going on in the world right now, I want to convey a simple message that I think we all need right now (pardon the rant, but skip ahead to the end if you want the sugar coated summary).
As a young Jewish woman, this is the time of year where I try to focus on my spirituality and coming to terms with my past year, and setting my sights on the year to come. Last week, our community celebrated Rosh Hashanah – the Hebrew New Year, and starting at sundown tonight, we will be observing Yom Kippur. For those of you who don’t know what this means, allow me to give a very abbreviated lesson in religious studies: Like the legend of Santa, God has his list of naughty and nice people too. Rosh Hashanah isn’t just a celebration of a new year, but it is known as the day God is said to record the names of the righteous, the wicked, and the in-between. Then comes the ten day waiting period, where you are to act on your best behavior, and make amends with those you have wronged in the past year, before God makes his final judgement on Yom Kippur and seals the books forever.
So how does this apply to what is going on in the world right now? As many of you know, there is a major conflict bubbling in the Middle East revolving around the chemical weapons that have been used and identified in Syria. After the recent chemical attack on Syrian civilians, word has it that Syria’s eyes are set on Israel for it’s next big attack. The preservation of the state of Israel is something very important to me, and I have always appreciated the US Government’s support of Israel. However, I have never been one to sink to the low level of an enemy, and do not support the vigilante approach to solving problems. Because of the delicacy of the political state of the countries in the Middle East, solutions need to be well thought out and executed perfectly in order to prevent unnecessary collateral damage.
Israel, and the rest of the Middle East for that matter, is obviously no stranger to conflict, but the repercussions of some of the actions being suggested by the US Government are very real and very very scary. Trying to wrap my head around the idea of essentially wiping out a country is something I am incapable of. I was raised in a tolerant, accepting, blended home, and the simple fact that human rights are being completely disregarded is something I will never understand, regardless of the inherent benefit to our country and our military. Who are we to judge the value of one human life against another? How do expect to be respected as a country when we don’t even uphold the standards we expect others to? This is the golden rule, treating others as you want to be treated, and we are setting a terrible example by even suggesting using nuclear weapons against another country.
And there is something to be said about what could happen after such a plan is put into place. Are we ready to face the inevitable backlash? Who are we to go against the sacred pact that we helped the UN put in place after the Cold War? Two wrongs never make a right, and when innocent lives are on the line, I think every decision deserves more than just thoughtful consideration. This type of behavior, whether it’s merely conceptualizing or putting those plans into action, is morally reprehensible, and in my opinion, is the type of stuff that gets you on God’s naughty list. And it is for that reason that during these High Holidays that I am spending as much time as I can paying attention to what is being said and done, and practicing my own belief of being an articulate, caring and compassionate person.
As if all this talk about religion and politics wasn’t heavy enough, this Wednesday marked the 12 year anniversary of the greatest tragedy in American history, 9-11. Every year when this day comes, I find that my emotions regarding what happened are even stronger than the year before. After almost half of my life has gone by, I still look at the images I woke up to on my parents TV in 2001 with tear filled eyes and a heavy heart. When I look at the progress of One World Trade Center, I cry with joy because of how far we have come since our history was forever changed. We have become more strengthened and united than ever before, and as John Stewart said in his televised address to his audience just days after the attack, this event has caused us to judge others not for the color of their skin, but the content of their character.
SO, IN SUMMARY… I think we all need to be reminded how important it is to love each other. Regardless of your opinion on all of this stuff flooding the news, what we can all learn from the 9-11 attacks, the weight of the decisions being made today and the theme of repentance surrounding the High Holidays, is that life is short, and shouldn’t be wasted on spreading hate or thinking you are above anyone. Live in gratitude and know that no matter what you are going through, someone else has it worse than you. Shine your light, give the gift of a smile to a stranger, tell the people close to you that you love them, and know that we are all equal in the eyes of God and should therefore love each and every person as such.