Sunday, November 28, 2010

Now Be Thankful

If I were that turkey looking at us on this blog I’d be thankful to still be alive the weekend after Thanksgiving. However, if I were the “turkey” the politicians are making out of our democratic system, I’d be ashamed. (The Random House College Dictionary defines “turkey” as a poor, unsuccessful theatrical presentation (i.e. a flop). In other words a “turkey” can be defined as an intense dramatic production that bombs. Just like our recent elections.) Polarization that seeks itself again and again simply for its own gratification; the high that ceaseless conflict generates -- has little sustainable benefit as far as I can “See.” Polarization can offer an opportunity for creative tension. In the hands of exceptional leaders polarization can create an opening for exploring options; getting to, not only the facts that savvy politicians and the business community know how to adroitly manipulate -- but to clarity, even to reach to the edges of “truth.” At least the best truth we can humanly reach. Polarization at the base-est level sought by the majority of our so-called leaders these days -- does not and cannot even come close to the elegant solutions that are genuinely creative and serve humanity. Maybe I am somewhat politically naïve (though that is unlikely having spent my entire adult life in and around the nation’s capitol) -- but I still believe that our Founding Fathers had something other in mind than devising a long-lasting government scheme of institutionalizing personal and political bashing. I grew up believing that our two party democratic structure meant a system of checks and balances; a means by which to attain peace – in as orderly fashion as possible. (Actually I really grew up when Watergate gave me my “last straw” about Washington politics. And, whoever in my generation has ever really gotten completely past the grief of those three assassinations of the 1960s?) On the other hand, maybe our Founding Fathers were truly that shortsighted given the absence of "Founding Mothers" signing the Declaration of Independence. Or is this thinking on my part just women-ese, merely an outgrowth of my undergraduate Women’s Studies education? Still in my mind, it just makes sense, if you think about it, that if you want to attain global peace, imagine even surviving, you do need to learn to do it on your own home turf. Even if all you really want is to get some practice while your main objective is to take over the world. Anyway, it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Peace on earth, goodwill to man, woman and child time. And, I am thankful for the mentors I've had, men and women, who showed me that win-lose is not an option in true HUMAN relations. Only win-win outcomes and elegant solutions build a way to lasting peace, even if the process is long and arduous. That’s what I want my legacy to be.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alienation, Anti-Semitism and Assimilation

Identity: Culture and Conflict

I had no idea that returning to my tribe would be so complex.

Now a bit more than four years later I sometimes want to run and hide from how involved the experience is becoming.

Other times I feel as if the whole of it; my journey from anti-Semite to assimilated -- (or is that “assimilating?”

Probably the latter as in "evolving" rather than evolved) -- is so totally beshrt I couldn’t have missed it if I tried.

As Sue often says, scanning her mystical mind, for wisdom and possibly a story,

“What hits you couldn’t have missed you" (original author unknown).

There I was overwhelmed by the enormous task of finding a way to navigate the mainstream, seeing world after an eight year sabbatical due to having lost my eyesight.

Sighted, once again,. I knew I was called to do some serious housecleaning of both my external, physical space as well as every nook and cranny of my mind-spirit, making amends to my Jewish heritage appeared on my to-do list.

Okay, I said to myself, time to reach out to the local synagogue and acknowledge that I, too, am one of “them.”

Having thus pushed myself to tremulously pick up and search the local phone book for “synagogues” (people who can not see do not read phone books), I located what appeared to be the main, perhaps only, synagogue in my nearest town (remember I live in the mountains).  

I dialed the number, filled with fear and trepidation.

“Hello” a friendly voice said on the other end.

Uh oh, my next words did not come easily.

Even got stuck in my throat for an instant.

However, having gotten this far an immediate plan arose in my mind.

Quick thinking and an innate ability to be articulate saved me from stumbling. I would tell the voice that I was a new Jew in town and I would like to meet with the rabbi.

My plan hadn’t really quite evolved that far. Only picking up the phone and calling were my immediate agendas. But what came out served to carry me forth.

Then my conscience did prick me a bit.

Was I really new in town? (Stories for another time.)

And, was I really Jewish or not?

I had publicly pronounced that I had "quit being Jewish" many times (probably only to non-Jews and to my poor Mom).

So was I telling the truth here or not?

After more than thirty years of pulling farther and farther away from my tribe, what was the deal for me on this point.

(The main impetus for me to quit being Jewish, I have only recently remembered; a situation brought about, first and foremost, by the sexually inappropriate conduct of a rabbi I had sought out during a time of grave family distress.)

 Funny how little things can slip your mind.

(Actually it was not at all a small thing. Nor is it – or was it -- funny.)

Clumsily, bumbling forth – “Of course,” said I, “a meeting with the rabbi would be just the thing.”

Alienation, anti-Semitism, assimilation; the "return of a former anti-Semitic Jewess, recovering Jewish American Princess" -- Free now of joining any clubs.

Or so I thought, An adventure in progress -- to be continued.