We all have special talents and when we play on the same team we should have the courage to share them. You can never tell how or when someone else may be able to use what you say in their own way.
I’m Jewish, as I wrote before, and Passover starts this year the night of March 27. There are many lessons we learn from Passover that are universal.
The Holiday celebrates the exodus from Egypt and is our Festival of Freedom. The root of the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, also indicates (personal) restrictions or imprisonment. The Rabbis teach homiletically that to become free one must recognize how we enslave ourselves with fears and prejudices and then break free from these bars. At the top of the list of prejudices is hate, hate of the “other.” Hate is one not-so-subtle form of enslavement!
It’s not that easy. We all have wants and needs piled on top of our fears. I’m afraid to write about Jewish things and think it’s better to keep a low profile, not to stick my neck out. Even here in the USA people are desecrating Jewish cemeteries, shooting up synagogues (churches too, but pre-COVID I was more likely to be in a temple than a church) and it’s kind of spooky when you have to pass an armed guard entering a house of worship. (Remember: Freedom of Religion is guaranteed by the FIRST Amendment.)
Anyone can become a minority when the deck gets shuffled. Some of you were sent overseas where you were a minority. Big difference – you probably were armed and your buddies had your back. But if as a private person you traveled overseas to a foreign country, perhaps to a country where you didn’t speak the language, look or dress like a native, most likely you would get a weird feeling. This would partly derive from not being on top, not being in control. The feeling of being a minority or experiencing discrimination is rough.
Unfortunately, you don’t have to go far to experience being the odd man or woman out. Red-lining and prejudice have and are tearing our country apart. Centuries of discrimination and prejudice have ghettoized many areas. There’s a mutual fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Arrested for driving while being black. Stuff like that. Tough times.
Since many of you who are reading this are Vets, you may recall taking an Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution. That was one Constitution for all of us regardless of color, religion, or place of origin. One reason we should be pissed off by these tough times!
And it’s a rough road we’re on; one full of potholes and bumps, construction, and detours everywhere. And more orange barrels than you can count. It’s rougher still if we’re doing our best to strip away our fears and prejudices all the while having to deal with COVID-19 and climate change. A lot of our teammates are hurting big time: sick, unemployed, lacking adequate food or housing, health care… and the list can go on.
We all have to grow, become more genuine, more human, and fight the good fight against hate and prejudice realizing that sometimes hate may be self-directed and lives along with depression. Don’t go it alone. If you need help, get help. There’s nothing wrong with that; we’re all on the same team!
OK. Enough. I’m going to share a song – Kol Ha’Olam Kulo. It’s a couple of hundred years old, comes from the Old Country, and for most of you comes from a very different culture. Hey, but we’ve been learning we’re all on the same team. So let’s give it a try.
If you’re reading The Havok Journal, you have access to the internet. Below’s a link to a YouTube recording. There are others. The lyrics are attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an 18th-century Chassidic rabbi who lived in Ukraine.
First, you will hear the premise: The whole world is like a very narrow bridge, (that you must cross).
Then the challenge: And the essence, the main thing…
And finally the solution: Is to never be afraid!
We all have our challenges. The road to freedom, to the promised land, is there in front of us. But we need to cross a desert full of snakes and scorpions – fears and prejudices. Working together we can get across.
TAKEAWAY: Life is a struggle and we need to be fearless. Our strength is our connectivity, working together on the same team.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.