“Stand up for what you believe in even if you are standing alone.” Sophie Scholl
I have been blogging for eight months now. Initially I wrote to help build a following for my book that I hope to soon publish. But my writing has become so much more than that. I am rediscovering who I am, what I believe in and a truth – my truth and my voice. Throughout this epiphany, intriguing situations and instrumental people in my life are finding me and teaching me valuable lessons.
This blog expands further on my earlier piece entitled “Does This Make You Uncomfortable” http://lettersandwalls.com/?p=74
Have you ever felt different from others in particular from those within your own “group” or affiliation or even family? Typically it is through airing our opinions especially when we feel ours is right and another’s wrong and can’t quite grasp why “they” don’t get it. Who is to say after all that one opinion is right and the other is wrong? Well in a free country you have that right – and so do I. I am okay with that but I am not sure everyone is. Yet as the disagreements get personal, vindictive or cruel, that has taught me the abuse says more about the attacker than the intended victim. One needs look no further than the 2016 American Republican primaries to see this in spades.
Still, it leaves me at times feeling self-isolated.
Receiving my first hate mail was in hindsight remarkably edifying and I am actually quite grateful for having been on the receiving end of it. In a private message I was informed that based on my opinion regarding my empathy for WWII civilian German casualties during the mammoth Allied bombardment of Dresden, written in a blog after having visited Dresden late last year, that I was no longer a part of the Jewish people – I had been banished. Imagine my euphoria that all on account of a singular proclamation by a former friend I had joined the ranks of Baruch Spinoza! Had I known in advance that she was the gatekeeper to the Jewish afterworld I would certainly have been more mindful of my P’s and Q’s. Surely I jest.
More recently I challenged an individual (and friend) on Facebook who wrote something there that was in my opinion categorically anti-Muslim and mocked the entire religion. In his opinion he did not agree. I went on to say that if a similarly provocative anti-Jewish message were posted – he and rightfully many others would have been enraged by it. From that came the ensuing rebuttals from his friends: “Your friend [me] is a Jewish libtard”. “He is a cancer to the Jewish people”. “You [me} surely support ISIS”. I am trying to understand why this internecine hostility is so rampant and how we find ourselves myopically confronted by it.
I am learning more and more about narrow-mindedness and insincere or imperfect ritual/scriptural based interpretation and rigidity. I am also gaining increased insight into intra-religious intolerance than I previously held myself. One has suggested that I now have intolerance of intolerance. Possibly. Also suggesting I am smug and self-righteous. Perhaps. I take to heart a phrase written by Mark Azoulay.
“If you believe in something believe it firmly”.
I am sure that many of you also realize that when people are so afraid of a core belief being challenged that they attack with unsubstantiated or irrational defenses. It is a phenomenon of a knee-jerk reaction without the thought process of intellectual honesty or responsibility and in my opinion is thoroughly disingenuous. Is it possible that their truth is being challenged and subconsciously they see in themselves an indefensible weakness or insecurity that they do not wish to confront? Or at least not yet. This can hold true for any irrational disagreement amongst peoples or even within a family. Often the battle lies within the individual themselves and not between individuals. If we cannot get along with “Us” how then can we ever hope of getting along with “Them”? It is always a battle of Us versus Us. I suggest a dose of empathy and compassion is the foundation to seeing an end to internecine hatred.
I am not trying to compare my humble and somewhat insignificant musings to a heroine like Sophie Scholl who paid with her life for her individuality. Until very recently I had never heard of her. Sophie was a young German woman who joined the White Rose movement in peaceful opposition to Hitler’s Germany. She was criminally charged and found guilty of treason and while the verdict was still warm – faced the guillotine at the age of 21.
So at times I do feel as if I am standing alone. But also strong in my convictions and to be someone other than who I now am would be dishonest. And while there has been sporadic yet strong opposition to a sub-set of my written words I have been many more times overwhelmed by abundant support and encouragement both private and public – and from sources that took my breath away. I am thankful to my supporters and detractors for they have each solidified my beliefs, my conviction – and yes my voice.
Well said Stewart!
Stu, sometimes it’s okay and even good to stand alone but I don’t think when it comes to lessening tensions and conflict and strengthening understanding amongst different religions, you stand alone.
I know I am not unique in my thoughts expressed Aruna, it is just sometimes when faced with opposition that one feels alone and isolated – and different.
The biggest critics are the ones who are themselves “chicken” to write their own blogs, fearing that they’ll be cut down to size by another critic. They take out their frustrations on the honest and open people like you, Stuart, who are brave enough to put it out there and face the wrath of the bullies. Keep it up.
Again, I thank you so much dear Rabbi. You give me much Chizuk and I am so grateful and appreciative of it. FYI – just had another “unsubscribe” from the hood. So be it. Not my issue!
Rabbi Korobkin said it well.
If you feel strongly about something and you’re writing about it on your blog or FB page or Twitter page, it is your space to air your thoughts. A forum for *discussion* or simply a podium for you alone. But when words from others go astray in your space, and look to target you negatively, you have every right to choose to defend yourself — or not. Just as we choose to keep intruders away from our personal living space, so, too, shall you let intruders stay away from your writing space. Whether by your choice or by theirs.
You have much to say; keep saying it.
Thanks for your support Pearl – always appreciated.Interesting times we live in …
Hate is being thrown around by party supporters from both sides. It is also magnified by both social media and to some degree regular media in their desperate race to stay relevant. However, we still need to support a robust debate without the politically correct taking over.
And events like today in Brussels Lars, make it that much harder to let down the walls of hate – for they are built even higher because of it. We must be vigilant in defeating terror wherever it is found, but I hope and pray that our humanity remains in tact as we do. That is the task for us as individuals in our daily lives.
Agreed. But to kill those who want to kill us is not hate, it is imperative for survival. We have to admit that there evil people in the world, that cannot be dealt with in a civilized manner.
I’m going to deny your aloneness, Stuart, because I firmly stand with you!!
We have to learn to be citizens of the world – first. When we are not, we are inevitably violent, because divisiveness is the foundation of war.
Every person has the right – and the responsibility – to choose their response to what the world presents to us all. You can hold fast to pain and seek “righteous” revenge from perceived monsters, forever sowing the seeds of hate and destruction. Or you can choose to open your heart and seek the wider perspectives of ordinary people in different circumstances, thereby building the bridges that create peace and understanding. I can see that your heart is open Stuart … isn’t it a wonderful feeling? Write on.
Karen, it has been the most liberating experience of my life …