Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How you can help

As soon as Shabbat went out this past Saturday night, the first thing on everyone's mind was checking the news. We had heard a rumor over lunch that the boys were found just before Shabbat came in, and we were yearning for it to be true. Sadly, obviously, it wasn't. One of my friends began reading from a news site, the only light in the room coming from the computer monitor, all of us so anxious to find out what happened, no one could bother the extra step to turn on a light after Havdallah. I sunk down onto the couch, hearing words, but not understanding. How do we live in a world where these headlines are real and not on some television show? How does the President of the United States send a message congratulating the US Soccer Team on their win in the World Cup, but no words of comfort to the family of the boy with US citizenship?

You could say, it's easy not to care when it's not your family, not your country. At the end of the day, these events have minimal-to-no impact on most people’s daily life. Even when people care, like when the Nigerian girls were taken, the concern only lasts so long. There is some other international tragedy that gets picked up in the news cycle.

I've been trying to find something redeeming in all of this. I'm a glass-half-full everything-has-a-silver-lining person. The Jews have gone through a lot over the past 3,000+ years, and this is bar far not uncommon in our history. So much so, that many hundreds of years ago in Europe, a famous rabbi who was abducted and held for ransom ordered his congregation to ignore the mitzvah of redeeming a Jewish hostage to prevent further abductions of Jews. I found it powerful when we don't give in to despair. When we fight to not be a weak, downtrodden people. Equally powerful are the efforts being made to encourage people to do acts of kindness. I can't explain to you why doing gemilut chasadim (acts of lovingkindness) is the most appropriate response to the brutal abduction of three teenagers on their way home for Shabbat - but it is. It's simply such a beautifully quintessential Jewish response.

I wish we didn’t need such negative events to bring us together, to inspire us in these ways. The unspoken part of going through these things together as a nation is the universal idea that we are one. So how do we temper the suffocating knowledge that people we love are in mortal danger, living in terror? By putting more love and light into the world. It reminds me of Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, if you clap your hands and believe, she will live. If we don't let the evil in this world bring us down, if we push through it and replace it, drown it out with our acts of love for no other sake then themselves and wanting to bring happiness to the world, things will get better.

Which brings me to my request for action, what you can do in the face of this tragedy: Join Curls of Wisdom this Thursday in not speaking any lashon hara negative words about any person. Lashon hara is divisive, it cuts and separates and erodes us as a people. If we can go a whole day without any negativity come out of our mouths, think of how much more positive the world will be on that day. Even the most hardened among us must admit, that one day without speaking negatively about another person can't hurt, and G-d Willing, can only help. Even if you slip up, every time you make an effort to not say something negative, you are changing yourself and the world. We will ask everyone to share their stories with us.

I'm not going to be so chutzpadik as to suggest that not speaking gossip for 24 hours will solve the problems in this world, or even release the hostages. What I will say is that it will make the world a better place, because we will be making ourselves better people. Don't give up hope, step up help.