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It's worth it

03/25/2021 09:10:32 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

After learning of the massacre of Asian-Americans last Wednesday, how could my thoughts not turn to a community that has borne the brunt of 3,800 anti-AAPI (Asian-American Pacific Islanders) acts within the past year, all seemingly blaming them for the pandemic. Particularly after the horrific slaughter in Atlanta, how could they not live in fear for their lives, simply because of their country of origin? It brought me back to 10.27, as every mass shooting does. I can recall the bold words of my friend Wasi Mohamed stating publicly, I think at the vigil that following evening at Soldiers and Sailors, when he acknowledged our fears, and generously offered that the Muslim community was ready to stand guard outside our synagogues, or even take people shopping if they were afraid. I remember thinking what an incredibly loving and generous offer this was, but then, it grew out of the mutual respect our communities have. The Jewish community responded similarly in Pittsburgh after 9/11, as the Muslim community feared for their lives, and we did so again after the horrific massacre in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Part of me began to wonder: when is enough enough?

Then I learned of the shooting in Boulder, Colorado. I generally do not watch the television reporting, for the view of ambulances and emergency responders is traumatic, and I just cannot watch. I think you can understand why.

How is it that despite a pandemic, according to one source, there were 615 mass shootings last year? Many of you might recall advertisements over the years encouraging us to purchase products made in the USA. Well, it certainly seems that mass shootings are also a product made in the USA, as the totals in the United States are far more than any other country on this planet. There have been 120 mass shootings this year so far.  This April 20 marks 22 years since the shooting in Columbine. What has changed since then?

How tragic that we are raising a generation of children whose vocabulary includes the words “active shooter drill”. They should not have that phrase in their vocabulary, but the harsh realities of the United States demand that schools do all that they can to protect their students. Our children are savvy and better informed than we give them credit for, and it certainly should give us pause to wonder how this culture of mass shootings impacts our school students. We can certainly be proud of the way the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida responded to their massacre. But they shouldn’t have to. People should be able to shop in their local supermarket, pray in their house of worship and attend school without fear that someone with ill intent is moving in on them.

As always, our elected representatives in Congress will not respond with productive and creative ways to handle this epidemic. As I have previously noted, the generic response follows this pattern: shock and horror>thoughts and prayers>bickering>let it fade through the news cycle>repeat as often as necessary. Once again it seems that the promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is only attainable if ordinary citizens band together to improve our life in America.

Attacks upon minority populations continue to increase, and part of the answer is for these communities to unite, recognizing that we have more in common than not, and work together in peace to repel this evil scourge. Only when we can carry on our daily existence and not feel threatened can we then be bold enough to suggest that H has been eliminated. Until that day, we’ve got work to do. Let’s roll up our sleeves; it’s going to be a long haul. But worth it.

Wed, April 21 2021 9 Iyyar 5781