Monday, October 6, 2014

Count Your Blessings - Day 31

Right and wrong are often measured against each other, as are good and evil. It's an ageless philosophical discussion - without evil, is there really good? Without wrong, can we truly understand right? Without our enemies, can we really measure the true meaning of our friends?

I'm not sure I go along with all this negativity - that we have to have evil to understand good, that we have to have death to celebrate life, that we need to be pummeled by our enemies to be grateful for our friends.

But in having enemies, we sometimes have blessings. Long ago, I wrote that one blessing of having our enemies close is that we have our sons close to home as well as they fight to defend our land. Another blessing in having our enemies close is that we cannot ignore, even for a single day, the reality in which we find ourselves.

Our enemies help shape the image we have of ourselves. We see them dance when we mourn and we know that is not our way. We see them demand the return of killers - even those who have slaughtered children, and we know that is now our way.

We see them fire rockets at cities, not caring where they land. We hear the fireworks they fire in the air when we find the bodies of children they murdered. This is not our way, we think to ourselves, with such gratitude.

Our enemies covet our land but more, they covet what we have accomplished in 3,000 years of devotion to a way of life, a land, our God. They fail to understand that they too could establish themselves as a light unto other nations. They could fly around the world and help others; develop such amazing technologies that make the world better. They could have the best doctors, raise the most caring of children. All this they could have, if they value what we value and do what we have done.

They take our words - exile, diaspora, genocide - but they have not experienced this, know nothing of what these words really mean. Genocide is not the death of a few hundred in a war you waged against your enemy; genocide is the systematic murder of people who have done nothing. The Jews of Europe did not have tunnels under their homes; did not take to the rooftops to protect rocket launching sites.

The Palestinians make a choice, every day - as we do. They choose where to spend the billions of aid money given to them (on tunnels for smuggling and attacking; on luxury homes and cars for their leaders; on bunkers for Hamas to hide).

The Germans put us in ghettos in Europe - and we turned them into places of enlightenment. We established the schools because we knew, even facing such harsh conditions, children needed to be taught. We created charity funds because there is always someone who needs more.

Our enemies teach us compassion (not that they learn it). And so we feel, honestly, for the innocents that die in a war we didn't choose, yet again. When your country is fired upon daily, you do not have a choice and so we did what we had to do this summer. But we regret...we regret that Hamas cares as little about their own people as they care for ours.

Our enemies teach us perseverance - so long as they continue to hate, to attack, to fight...we have to as well. As Benjamin Netanyahu said long ago - if the Arabs stopped fighting, there would be peace. If we stopped fighting, there would be no Israel.

Our enemies teach us respect - of life, which they lack; of women, which they never show. They have taught us the value of our own democracy - real elections in which the outcome is not fully known until the votes are counted.

Our enemies teach us about living in an open society where men and women are more equal than not; where women can drive and vote and smoke and walk alone or with friends. They teach us that we are free and live in what can be called a very western society.

Our enemies teach us about tolerance, because they are not. They do not tolerate those who do not conform to their societal rules and so women, homosexuals, Jews, Christians and others are abused regularly. This is not how it is here in this land I love so very much.

There are many more examples I could give why having enemies can be a blessing. As hard as it can be, at times it helps clarify why you are as you are and what you don't want to ever be.

So, today's blessing...our enemies. May God bless them...with enlightenment, with freedom, with conscience. May they learn the value of life - ours, and their own. May they cherish their children enough to make them live and our children enough to let them live.

May they understand that helping others is the best way to live; demanding and begging others to help you not always good at all.

1 comment:

Russell Grayson said...

Beautifully said, Paula. I shared this on Twitter to my 1500 followers as an example of how we Jews are different from our enemies in a fundamental way.

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