- Black Lives Matter
- All non-Native Americans immigrated from somewhere else
- Latinos are people looking for a better life
- Human trafficking happens in Howard County
- Refugees need a home
- The glaciers are melting faster than ever before in recorded time
- The world is very scary
- Don’t talk to strangers
- Smoking kills people fast
- Muslims are Americans, soldiers and are loyal
- Terrorists are scary and unpredictable
- People with Mental illness are sick
- Progressive Judaism is disappearing
- Resources and time are at a premium.
Sound bites, tweets, serious thoughts expressed in as few characters as possible. Leaving our consciousness as quickly as it entered.
In Judaism words, matter. We are taught in Genesis one that Gd spoke and then the world was created. In the prayer we say every morning every day of the week, Baruch Sheamar, we recall that the words we use create the worlds in which we live. As a congregation, as a community, we have a responsibility to choose the words carefully to create the world we want to live in.
Words matter not only in the way they are intended but also in the way they are understood. “All lives matter” might be true, but if the person hearing those words remembers that all people were protected in our constitution except African Americans, they don’t hear, “All lives matter.” They hear, “All lives matter more than African American lives do.” Words matter. An illegal immigrant might be undocumented except they know that many Caucasian-European immigrants like 2 out of my 4 grandparents, came to this country illegally and they were still called citizens. Words matter. We might all be frightened by the terrorist threat but when we call the terrorists Muslims we isolate and hurt other Muslim Americans who are peace-loving, just citizens. Words matter.
We are at a crossroads as Americans and Jews. We have the choice. Are we going to look for the sacred/the holy spark in all human beings or are we going to see fear and danger everywhere we look? The words we use will create the reality we live. The words we hear and listen to matter as much as the words we use. We must advocate loudly for “innocent before proven guilty”. We must isolate and neutralize those who incite fear and hate. We must be the moral role models for our children standing up to adult-size bullies. Words matter.
You have often heard me teach that we should think globally and act locally. But what does that mean in practice? Should we put a Black Lives Matter’s sign out in the front yard of the meeting house, should we work to adopt an undocumented immigrant from Central and South America or Syria? What about the homeless on route one or the mentally ill on the streets with signs asking for handouts? Should we build bridges to the Muslim? And the list goes on. It is very clear to me the answer to all of these questions is yes. And our resources and time are at a premium. To be the most effective, we need to set priorities, we need all of our community to commit, we need to get involved. As we finish celebrating Channukah, think about how you can be a Maccabee fighting for the rights of all to live a just, free and safe life. And then speak. Speak the words that will create the world we will pass on to our children.
CJC’s next Tikkun Olam committee meeting is Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 7:30pm. We have so much work to do. We will always have so much work to do. We are not commanded to finish the work nor are we allowed to refrain from getting involved.
Please join us.