Ben Franklin, around the signing of the Declaration of Independence, stated his well-remembered quote, “We must all hang together or most assuredly hang alone,” emphasizing that all must remain united and supportive of one another to ensure our freedom.
There are endless reasons for people to hang together. But so often we forget this or neglect to give it its due. Then something tragic occurs such as what has happened in Paris this past weekend.
Then we remember, at least for a little while, how very much we all need one another -- and the tragic price we can pay for divisiveness.
As we face heartbreaking losses we cleave to one another, finding comfort and warmth in our human connectedness. All too soon, however, when our catastrophes recede, many, if not most of us, return to life as usual; the way it was before we were challenged in the heartrending way; too caught up and busy with our own, self-focused imperatives for others to matter.
When I was the local president of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) I experienced a heartrending controversy that tore Jews in my local area apart, at least initially the situation seemed to me to do that. Simultaneously I found alliances with Christians and other non-affiliated folks.
Actually, as I was to discover, as I waded my way through hip high resentments, power plays, secrets and collusions, distancing the hearts among many Jews in a town, not overly abundant in them, divisiveness was rife in this community. I was heartbroken at this realization as it became clearer and clearer to me. In fact, I believe that what I saw, how I interpreted it and what I felt at the time about the situation was an important turning point in my life.
I, too, had turned my back on others; of my faith heritage as well as many others. In fact, for more decades than I care to remember I became determinedly anti-Semitic. Even bleaching my hair blonde so as not to be identified as “one of them.” When I purposefully came back to my association with these “others” only to find Jew against Jew in the most petty of ways, my hard won dedication to going back turned my perspective of Jewish community and what it meant to me growing up on its head.
Today we see almost daily that people need to not “other” anyone, same or not same. While people will, no doubt, find sustenance most readily from likeminded others, we must ‘hang together” with “others” no matter who or what they are; the same or not.
There is much more to this story of mine; a tale of separation from others, the toll it took on me and the others, what my return has been like and how it has changed me – for the better. I will speak of it increasingly in the future as I believe that what I have learned in this specific area of my personal journey is well-worth the sharing for the lessons accrued.
Already my Exploring Your Dark Side blog site is becoming a platform for the treasures I have gained to be shared. I hope you will check it out, especially if “hanging together” means something to you – and – sometimes you don’t do it as well as you might.
Today, as my inner world plays an increasingly energetic and interactive role with my outer world and the world surrounding, close up and far away, what I have discovered as I made my way to this place of abundant unity and support merits sharing.
For today, however, I think it best to simply invite you, my loyal readers, to check out the most recent Possible Society In Motion Radio Show titled, “Why "Bother" With Community,” that Jack, my co-host, and I did last Thursday. We made a beginning, but only a start, at digging into the countless obstacles and rewards of humanity, at its best, when people hang together.
Especially when we can each appreciate that no other option can better serve us; in times of tragedy, loss, sorrow, joy and celebration!
Today if we look to Paris we are reminded of this.