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utopia

02/13/2020 12:37:12 PM

Feb13

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

One of the ways that humans evolve over time is by accepting things that they might not have been comfortable with at a prior stage of life. Sometimes that acceptance is more of a resignation, a passive acknowledgement that it does not matter what your opinion might be, this is the way things are. Just because something is done one way does not make it right nor does it have to be acceptable.

H speech continues to spew out of our elected officials, most particularly from Washington DC, the ground zero of Krakatoan eruptions. While I do not think that any of us can point to a particular starting date when civil discourse became uncivilized, it grows in severity and frequency. Candidates attack each other with regularity, and we have become numb to their anesthesia of H.  A member or members of one political party speak H about the other party. What of civil discourse? How are we to teach our children kindness and respect when they see our leaders behave the opposite?

Most science fiction movies that present the author’s vision of the future are dystopic. They show us a world destroyed, people scrounging to survive, or they model a utopian society for those who merit that standard, with a dystopian society beyond the massively enforced city walls. What is unsettling to many people who watch these movies is how realistic they seem, and how the distance from our current reality to the movie’s supposed fiction is less of a distance than we are comfortable.

Mankind is capable of both, the dystopic and utopic futures. Each of us does have a role in that path through our daily interactions with fellow humans and animals. Those who are cruel to animals show the dystopian vision. Those who spew H speech and, even more grotesquely, those who act upon it, model a dystopic future. We can firmly reject that vision every moment of every day by the mitzvot we perform for others, the kind words that we share, the respect we model, all a condemnation of those who choose the wrong path.

If you recall the cartoon image of the little red devil on your left shoulder and the little white angel on your right, they would regularly offer their opinion on choices before you. While God admits to Noah after the Flood that humanity’s inclination from youth is toward evil, that does not mean our doom. We can and must ignore that inclination, and regularly direct our lives towards a positive outcome. In a place where there is no mentsch, you must be the mentsch. Dystopia will never be the answer. H speech must be rejected. For those who celebrate Valentine’s Day, every day must be Valentine’s Day.

Mon, February 24 2020 29 Shevat 5780