#FREEYOURMIND

Welcome back everyone. Hope all is well. Well, at least on a personal level.
It seems like not much else is well in the world. People are dying and fighting and arguing. Protests and counter protests, fueled by hate and anger. Everyone is right, and everyone is wrong, and everyone’s to blame and to pay the price.
To be honest with you folks, it’s getting rather tiresome, don’t you think? Hate, that is.
We see a bunch of celebrities tweet and post their opinion about the fighting in Gaza (though we don’t see them chime in on the massacres in Syria, Iraq, Sudan and other places around the globe). Some go to great lengths to explain why they’re on this side or the other.
The websphere has been divided into three main groups:
The “Pro-Israelis“, The “Pro-Palestinians” and the “people who don’t really care“.
These first two groups launch endless arguments about “Who’s right”. And the arguments vary in terms of length, depth and volume of hate and racism. Photos of varying degree of reliability are smeared on Facebook, Videos of Israelis-criticizing-Israel and Palestinians-criticizing-Hamas are posted as the absolute proof of “this side” or “the other”‘s righteousness.
This has been amplified with the recent feud between the outspoken Russel Brand and Sean Hannity (Both of whom I like, for their tenacity, both of whom I disagree with, for pretty much the same reason).
I have yet to see anyone convinced that one was wrong, as a result of these endless spats.
Which leads me to my point.
I’m participating in the Peace Factory initiative (again – I encourage everyone to join us), and one of the things we agree on there is that there is no “other side”. We simply refuse to see each other as enemies. Why should we? What’s to be gained? And by who?
After spending some time with us, one might ask oneself a few questions. For example:
  • Is it OK to care for casualties regardless of their nationality?
  • Is it OK to want your family and friends to be safe, while wanting the same for people on the other side of the border?
  • Is it OK to wonder and question the effectiveness of violence as a solution for violence?
  • Can we view each others as individuals, regardless of the flag flying over our heads?
  • Can we avoid vilifying each other?
And if the answers to all of the above is “Yes”, then how do we do that?
Well, for one – one can stop participating in the “Pro-Israel/Palestinian” propaganda.
One can be “Pro-Peace” instead. This “title change” is not cosmetic though, be warned. It means that we’re not out there to show how the Palestinians are the root of all evil. We’re not there to show how Israel is the root of all evil. We’re out there to make a connection. To make friends. To communicate.
Because we can either spend our time arguing, trying to prove each other wrong.
Or, we can spend our time trying to build as many bridges as possible between the people.
It’s as simple as that – you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.
The problem these days, as I see it, is that in the heat of conflict, hate dominates the “discussion”. It’s not a discussion at all. It’s fuel for more conflict. It’s firewood for the furnace we’re all stuck in for a very long time. It’s just another turn in the cycle of violence.
If you’d like to help break this cycle, you can do many things:
  • Join the Peace Factory (See at the bottom of this post).
  • Listen to some of the interviews, presentations by some of our organizers (See at the bottom of this post).
  • Resist the urge to argue and fight. In war – e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e loses, so really… what for?
  • Remember – we want peace. The politicians may have their interests in mind, but our interests are to live and let live.
  • FREE YOUR MIND – The media is telling you only what their agenda makers tell them to. It’s always nice to read the paper that echos your point of view. But are you getting any real value from it?
  • REFUSE to see others as enemies – Talk about media – do not buy the propaganda. “Israel” is made of millions of people with many different opinions (Know that joke about every argument between two Jews involves 10 different opinions? It comes from somewhere 🙂 ). They are not all Benjamin Netanyahu. The Palestinian population is not all Hamas. In fact, even Hamas is not one homogenized group. People are people…
  • Do not support the vilification of a nation. Since we don’t buy the propaganda, we know that “Israel” is not evil. We know “Palestine” is not evil. Be part of peace making, not the extension of the cycle of violence.
  • Go out and make some friends! You just might be surprised how it can change your perspective.
Well, I hope that made as much sense as I hope it did. If not, feel free to tell me about it right under this post.
Here are some of the links I promised in the above:
See you Monday with another “Monday Chat” shenanigans! Until then, Peace out,

Of Freedom And Hate

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen.

This week, us Jews celebrate Passover (Pesach) and a cosmic alignment of events took place and as per usual, history lessons and current affairs did the tango. That is to say, we do tend to go around in circles.

Passover means many things to us, but first and foremost it is a holiday of freedom. You know the main plot, I even went ahead and complimented the writer in THIS post. Slaves liberated, free to go back to their home. Free.

Many of us are lucky to live in free countries (well, more on that on a separate post) where we can do pretty much anything and pursue our happiness, as long as we don’t break any law. There’s a lot to be said about the extent to which we can do so, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s take the above as a truth, shall we?

Having said that, we are witnesses to some horrendous acts done by men. As individual incidents, these could be dissected and provide material for countless blog posts. But the acts I’m referring to are tied to freedoms. Mostly, the freedom of speech.

Let’s look at a couple of these acts.

On the same week, Passover week, two seemingly separate incidents took place. One in Kansas USA and the other in the west bank. The first involved a bigoted KKK man (and I use this phrase loosely) who shot three Jews for being Jews, and the second a Palestinian shooting a man in front of his wife.

Now, before we turn this into a political debate, I’ll go ahead and mention two other incidents. One involving an Israeli soldier (again, I use this phrase loosely) on his way home or to the army, shooting at innocent Arab citizens inside a bus. The second, of course, a religious fanatic, shooting Muslim worshipers in a sacred cave in the west bank.

The first two acts are recent, the other two happened a few years ago, but they both relate directly to the freedom of speech. These individuals would not have done what they have done, had they not been fed the most dangerous poison of all time – hate.

As opposed to popular belief, Jews don’t hate Arabs and Arabs do not hate Jews. Individuals hate other individuals. But when a baby is born, he’s not aware in which “bucket” society puts him. He doesn’t know hate. He is taught hate.

Now, we do like to talk. We love that freedom. And why shouldn’t we? It’s a basic right to be able to voice your opinion. Hell, I’m doing it right this very moment. So who are you to shut me up, right?

In times like these, with internet and easy access to media platforms, it’s even simpler to spread hate. Anyone with rudimentary understanding of blogging, or many other outlets can start a fire. Sadly, it might be even easier to spread hate than any other thing because hate is bread through fear, and playing on a person’s prejudice, sensitivities and other easily manipulated mechanisms. Mush easier than say… love, forgiveness, acceptance, peace…

The sad truth is that, with so much “material” to work with, all man doings, every hateful notion can be easily supported with “facts”.

‘Of course Arabs hate the Jews. Here are some horrific terrorists for you”

“Of course the Jews hate the Arabs. Here’s a lunatic promising to blow up the Mosque on temple mount.”

“Of course black people are criminals. Look at this prisoner. He’s black”

“Of course white people are lying, manipulative SOBs. Look at Madoff, he’s white.”

Humanity gives us so many reasons to hate, all we need is a “push in the right direction”… So what do we do? People take these hateful messages and act on them, that is a fact.

Well, we could of course ask our leaders to put more limitations on the freedom of speech. It may land some of these A holes in prison. It could possibly dilute the volume of hateful incitement and reduce the number of hate crimes.

I hope that as you read that last sentence, you realized how pointless and harmful that would be.

Yes, these hate crimes are all built on top of propaganda, preaching and smears under the protection of the freedom of speech. They’re all deplorable and there’s no excuse for any of them. Yes, I sometimes browse through  some talk-backs to an article and wish that some of these guys get arrested for the damaging comments they post. But in the end of the day, I have to remind myself of two things.

First and foremost, it is a slippery slope. The minute we agree to give up basic rights, they would be gladly taken away, and to an extent none of us can control. This basic right to have your say is the core of democracy. The rule of the people. Without the people being able to speak we might as well give up every other right.

In addition it’s a classic “Today it’s you, and me tomorrow” situation. If the right to speak is compromised, it’s not a one way street.

So what do we do?

The only tool we have in our disposal is… the freedom of speech. Hate is an easy sale. Much easier than love. We’re far less open and accepting than we’d like to think of ourselves. But if we want to see less hate, there’s only one thing we can do. And it’s to spread the love 🙂

I know, how very 60s of me. But really, what other choice do we have? So go out there and hug a stranger. Stand up to racism, bigotry and hate. Don’t be a little cynic and smile damn it!

This blog is open for opinions, comments, ideas or anything other than hate. So tell me – what can we do to counter this hate?

Until we meet again, Peace out,