Friday, July 8, 2016

The Sun is not quite so sunny today

As I think about my last days at camp and two hours from the start of Shabbat festivities I am carrying around the pain and anguish that has become too common in my life as of late.  Two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot by police in what most people feel were situations that did not require deadly force.  I hope that a transparent investigation brings justice.  I fear that too often it appears that justice is not easily found, because the situations are not easily understood in light of media outrage and platitudes.  These two, the last in a long line of African Americans killed by police in situations that have raised questions.  So last night, as I tried to sleep I checked my phone to find some people had decided to attack police officers in Dallas, TX.  Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, and Michael Krol are among the names as I have not read the other two.

What has brought us to this point?  I am not sure.  I have seen people blame President Obama, Black Lives Matter, and even Israel.  Seriously that last one threw me.  I have seen people blame the gun culture, the failure of understanding others who are different, systemic racism and even male aggression.

This cultural disease cannot be boiled down to one thing, and while we see patterns, we must see each case on its own.  Trying to push blame on someone or one ideology is ridiculous.  We make up the culture, we choose what to let be the topic of the day and we choose what we will work on.

What strikes me hard is that the Dallas Police Department has worked hard in recent years to address the issues raised by the apparent injustice against African Americans.  Through training, promotion of black officers and community engagement they have reduced charges of excessive force and have built bridges into the black community.

Joe Walsh, a former Republican member of the House of Representative who now has a radio tweeted that he declared war on Black Lives Matter and the President of the United States.  This ignorant fool who has his own personal problems in life, shared a voice seen by many, from the White Supremacists to angry suburbanites looking to lash out.

In both cases the anger is misdirected and in both cases dangerous.  The first took the lives of 5 officers and the second could inspire the same.  But that is not the answer and nor should it be.

We can be angry today, but that anger should be channeled into changing how we think.  There will always be people who will try to destroy order for their own gains.  They must be stopped.  There will always be people who hate a group or individual because of their races, ethnicity, religion, who they love etc.  They must be shunned.  There will always be people who think the answer to a problem is violence.  They must be stopped.  There will always be people who cannot and will not reason things out, they must be isolated from others.  We have the power.  Stop praying about it and do something.

If you have problems with the police, make an appointment and have some talk to  you.  If you don't understand why someone is wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, ask them.  If either are too angry to be helpful, find someone who isn't.  Build community connections between you and people who you currently see as different, other, or outside of your comfort zone.  You will be surprised what  you learn and what might happen when you build bridges.

The answer to violence is not more violence.  The answer to violence is to create a culture where violence is shunned and suppressed.  It is our responsibility.  All of Us.  All we I have been talking about Korach who wanted to over-throw Moses and Aaron as leaders of the Israelites.  We worked with the children on problem solving and the values of a good leaders and how to protest injustice.  It makes me want the whole country to go to camp.  To create these mini-diverse communities where you can learn about others and let your person expression be who you are.  Maybe then today I would be able to see more colors in the sky and feel more ready for Shabbat.

I Don't Wear My Kippah at WalMart

Several years ago I was sitting in a cafe with someone who suggested I take off my kippah.  The neighborhood we were in was a predominantly...