Beyond the Cusp

September 10, 2015

When Change Comes Merely For Change, Hope Can Only Follow

 

While it is a given that leftists, progressives, liberals or whatever one chooses to call those from the left of even the socialists demand change for the sake of change. Their rallying cry is and always has been we can do better and we can only get there through change, often, as was with President Obama in his 2008 campaign, radical changes. What people should ask themselves, and in turn those demanding change, is what we have working or has it failed us. The easiest way to remember this is to ask oneself as soon as one hears the mantra of change, especially change for the sake of progress, another way of saying change, is whether change is necessary or is the present system actually working. Even if we decide the system in place needs change, or simply some adjustments, then one need ask of those calling for change would be for them to spell out in specifics which parts of the system they believe requires change and what exactly is their change and how will it be an improvement. Usually if one simply claims change is required because we can do better, but they do not define the change, they just scream we must change everything that is not working or is broken, then this person is a danger to the society. Change is not in and of itself good. The concept that all change is inherently good because change will bring innovations and the latest new ideas into play and these new ideas are change we need is dangerous. Changes and new ideas should be approached with great caution, tried in selected places where if this change is an improvement, then this test group is the most likely to understand and gain from the change; and if they fail when trying change then one need return to the previous method and simply state that they gave the changes a fair assessment and they did not produce desired results thus these specific changes are harmful and will not be implemented.

 

 

Seasons Change as Do We but Their's is Inevitable While Ours Need Not Be

 

 

The most evident and easiest to understand is in the field of education, all levels of education. The reason education is such a prime example is because there have always been improvements introduced which were radically successful and other changes have crashed and burned and should have been rejected but for the sake of ‘progress’ (this word actually means change when used in anything even remotely political and education is the most egregious example of these rantings and the programs they installed) were instituted across the board because they only failed because the entire system was not installed and full implementation is the only true test. Full implementation means absolutely no way ever of returning to the previous method because it will have been erased from educator’s minds by the changes in the curricula being taught at every level to teachers, and teachers are one of the few professions where additional training is required. The change barkers, the change merchants, the bringers of change armed with demands of this has to be better as it is change and that makes it innovative beyond any rational understanding so you must accept change, will attempt to overwhelm any opposition with long diatribes which have no clear meaning other than a simple idea that ‘change equals good’ and that is all the argument necessary just as long as you never state that clearly.

 

Go online and try to understand Common Core math as there are many sites to try and understand their version of subtraction or their forms for algebra which will eventually give one the correct answer provided the answer is a whole number, any mathematician or physicist or other professional who uses math will attest is a rare occurrence which usually only exists in the problems set-up to produce such a result. The reasoning behind this new math, as it used to be named, is that flash cards and memorizing tables is evil and does not explain to the student exactly what addition, subtraction, multiplication and division actually are and this new method does so by revealing every step taken in one’s mind. Therein lays the problem because no two minds will react in exactly the same manner except for memorization.

 

You want children to understand simple math just give them one hundred dollars in a savings account and tell them that they must never ever allow the principle to drop below that one-hundred dollars. You can then explain how the interest is applied and once they have mastered their savings account they will have a grasp of every function including some simple algebra. Actually, handling money will often teach children what math means faster than anything else. Further, if you ever want to see if the math teacher fully understands addition, just ask them in math what is the definition of a successor. Their answer should start out like this: a successor to any whole number is the point one increment higher on the number line. Every number has a successor thus there is no highest number thus we represent that concept as infinity. As every number has a successor, ever number is the successor to the number before it on the number line. Addition is repeated successors such that five plus three you are looking for the number that is the third successor of five thus the first successor to five is six, the second is seven and the third is eight so five plus three is eight. Subtraction is exactly the opposite so you count in the other direction to find what had the number as its third successor. Multiplication is repeated addition and exponentials are repeated multiplication and once you master that, welcome to the sixth grade and word problems; you will simply learn to hate two trains on the same track. That should be the gist of the teacher’s reply to your question, a deer in the headlights eye lockup is not the desired answer from a math teacher, and yes, my major was theoretical math at some fairly reputed universities.

 

Another example which I feel has been unbelievably damaging to children’s education was a change for the goodness of change in how reading is taught. The departure from even the most basic of concepts for phonics being dropped and replaced with whole word recognition has a very nefarious and not simply damaging effect on reading, robbing from the child the ability to learn new concepts and ideas on their own. The use of whole word recognition makes it impossible for a child to know what the difference might be had they yet to be introduced to the two words of banana and umbrella as they have no manner to read these words for themselves by sounding out the words using phonics. They do not even understand that just by saying the name of the letters rapidly might also give them sufficient recognition to realize what the written word means. The child has likely run into the two words, banana and umbrella, in their daily lives but solely in conversation and thus knows bananas are food and umbrellas are used for rain or shade from the sun, but never having had the words themselves introduced under whole word recognition, they will not realize what either word is and will be at a loss for understanding.

 

This also comes in handy in controlling discourse or the ability to self-actualize and educate beyond their taught concepts let alone other more esoteric or ponderous political concepts outside those that may have been instilled by their educators. As is well established, control the language and one has controlled the discourse and the paths leading forward. This was well established in the novel 1984 with items being classified as good, plus-good, double-plus-good, ungood, plus ungood, and double-plus-ungood substituted for all emotions across an entire range such as envy, pride, satisfaction, hatred or any word dropped from the approved lexicon and also lost is the concept of having no opinion or neutrality thus one is forced to have an opinion even if one does not care thus everything at a minimum are either good or ungood, no such thing as ‘non-good or ungood’ as that was unacceptable speech thus a thought crime, something everybody knew was double-plus-ungood.

 

These have been some very basic observations on changes over the past half a century in the education profession where the goal of teaching was just as much, if not more so, to place barriers between the student and self-defining such that they could be molded in their thought to come to a uniformed result with all belonging to the groupthink and where individualism was discouraged. As an individual who attended a progressive school which was a test institution for the new reading and writing whole word recognition where I failed miserably as I seemed to continuously write and use words which were, as near as I could tell, unappreciated and there was a strong desire to press upon me the disapproval such words would have on my life should I persist in speaking using such terminology and that I should restrict my thoughts and expressions both written and spoken to appropriate language. As those of you who visit here probably have figured, I hardly ever restrict my choice of words to the meager vocabulary my school teachers of my youth desired I restrict myself to using. I was blessed with a mother whose patience rivaled that of Job who taught me at great pains, largely mine as she believed strongly in corporal-punishment, to use phonics starting with learning to sound out a word by simply saying the letters very quickly slurring them together and if that failed to use the more traditional sounding the word out painstakingly using every conceivable combination of long and short vowels and different emphasis and syllable break-points. I eventually learned sufficiently well enough to become self-sufficient in reading and learning new worlds though never quite to my mother’s, Baruch Hashem, complete satisfaction. My mother was to be blessed for teaching me to think and express myself adequately though after I realized my own path she did not exactly agree with my politics though she could rarely find fault with my positions, she just could not appreciate the manner in which I expressed my views when voting. I would always tell her that she need not worry as whomever I would vote for would be the candidate who would lose so she should be glad I did not vote as she preferred as that one vote would cause them to lose. Enough rambling and perhaps I might get back on track.

 

I find that I agree that certain things require changing and require such on a regular basis. Many pieces of clothing require changing each on its own schedule, though many choose to change all at the same time, to each their own. Traffic signals changing are a good concept. I have found that except for things which are cyclical that slow and steady change is not a bad idea as should any single step prove unproductive or worse, counter-productive, then it can be altered or even simply undone and discarded. That is how evolution works, or so I have been told though the skeletons of the individual animals which grew eventually into ducks and chickens from a singular ancestral bird have yet to be found; I will not condemn the entire theory as of yet. Somewhere there is an animal where one is a Ducken and another is a Chuck but thus far no such has shown. We are shown an animal’s skeleton and are told this is the ancestral animal from which we get the duck, the chicken, the swan, the emu, the Ostridge and etc. and etc. That had to be one proud bird-like creature to be the forerunner of so many different birds and yet I have trouble seeing the similarities and especially the differences.

 

 

Yard Filled With Choices Like Life You Chose the Road You Travel

 

 

Many of the ancestral animals I am particularly glad are not on Earth today as many were downright frightening in size and probably equally capable in defending themselves. I will always remember this one bird which they claim the Ostridge family arose that could kill a modern day buffalo with one strike from its beak by breaking the buffalo’s neck. That was one mean and nasty well-armed bird even if it could not fly. Yet, similarly the same biological-anthropologists, I think that is what they are called, tell us the cockroach has survived from before the dinosaurs almost unchanged over time as it has found itself well-adapted for its niche though some claim it has differed in size from time to time and even place to place. The difference in size from place to place I personally am able to confirm. These changes are necessary and led to our emergence so we do owe our very existence to change. That alone does not make change necessarily good. The flu virus threat changes every year, or at least the injection procedure and medication changes every year and this is definitely a bad thing, especially if the physicians guess wrong and a different outbreak were to strike which actually was favored by their flu shots, this would be a calamity, a world-wide calamity. So here change happens and unless the doctors get the correct change we can lose and lose big. But change in the manner in which we do things such as education, growing crops, raising herd animals, anything to do with the food chain should not be altered drastically or completely across all borders just in case one particular path proves devastatingly wrong. As long as there are crops or animals which were left unaffected by progress, then there would be a chance to return to a path which we know to be solid and proceed, making certain we do not go down that ill tread path ever again.

 

The same should apply to education, and even political change though that often comes only from violent and complete change, all too often resulting within a short period of time, an all too short a period, to result in the same dilemma though with a new tyrant replacing the old tyrant. Then there are the merchants of hope who claimed that Bashir al-Assad was a reformer and would bring democracy and an enlightened path to Syria because, after all, he was educated in Britain and had been shown the advantages of Western culture and a whole long list of positive enforcements which would serve as a bulwark guarding against any temptations to resort to the kind or actions his father had used when he nearly wiped out an entire town to put an end to demonstrations. Unfortunately for the Syrian people and the entirety of the heartlands of the Middle East the Bashir acorn did not fall far from the tree and we had an exact same response to the demonstrations and then some, leading to a dysfunctional devastation spreading across the heartlands of the Middle East from Lebanon across the Syrian borders through to Iraq and even sprouting offshoots in Libya, Sinai Peninsula, Nigeria and beyond known as ISIS and claiming to be the Caliphate. That too is a form of change but not exactly constructive change.

 

I am not calling for an end to change as to do that is to claim you are against all progress. I am also not ever going to claim that all change is progress and therefore inherently good. Measured change which has been tried and proven to be an improvement by a wide consensus comprised with people from as wide an array of perspectives, experiences and all other criteria which may be either favorable or unsympathetic to the planned change is careful and responsible change. The results should be measured by disparate methodologies and across every field which may be affected and these results repeated in second, third and even fourth separate studies using different situations and mediums as may potentially be affected as well. Once a change has proven effective and superior to the previous known and generally accepted methods, then it can be fully implemented. Change must be performed in incremental and deliberate stages such that any and all ramifications as well as any difficulties can be addressed and rectified before the next stage is implemented. Change which is undefined is and always will be a threat to the wellbeing of the society.

 

Whenever somebody, especially a person attempting to take a meaningful position such as principle of a school or President of a nation, they must be forced to define every step of what it is they plan to change before their call for change can be judged and then approved by the people. Change which is undefined and the actual changes kept from definition is truly Hope and Change and that can prove to be very detrimental, something the full effects of which are being and are going to continue to be felt unfortunately far beyond the borders where the people claimed that they could sign on to Hope and Change and all that went with it. May the full effects be able to be repaired before some of the change delivers some nasty results, the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons within the decade being a prime example. Hopefully the human race has had enough Change where Hope was the underpinning and will now know to force any politicians claiming to be the bringer of Hope coupled with Change will demand as to what it is they Hope for and what Change they intend to use to get there, and then limit their enthusiasms as much as one is able. Change will happen even if a Luddite gains office and his entire Luddite Party gains both houses of Congress, even with such a resistance elected, change will come because some changes just cannot be held back.

 

Once the steam engine was invented and modified for industrial use with the centrifugal governor regulating its speed there would be no going back to oxen as the power for industry, the industrial revolution became unstoppable. Change that is worth keeping will eventually come into being but even as that may bring in change, it must be allowed to bring certain changes to an end when they no longer serve any purpose. One need not install any centrifugal governor to a step dc motor because it cannot enter a runaway mode, thus requiring such might have been a great idea during the steam age but would become an unnecessary part in the electronic age and requiring one would serve to keep the copper ball manufacturers employed but that would serve little other use beyond needlessly increasing prices. Still, one would be astonished on how long people have been kept in the employ and even hired to fill a position even after their position was no longer required. The fire stokers were required to man stations even after the steam locomotives were replaced by diesel electric engines despite there being no fire to tend nor coal to shovel, but that position was kept as required to man any engine for almost two decades after they became obsolete. There are those who claim this is what led to the end of passenger rail service in the United States but at the same time made air travel so successful. Eventually necessary change will happen and when resisted it can have some very interesting consequences.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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July 1, 2015

When Our Traditions All Fall and Fail Us

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Shared traditions and agreement on common goals are the glue which holds societies together. Without these familiar items as the glue there is no need to fear threats from without as the society eventually will tear itself apart from the inside. You want a current example of such a society all one need do is look to the Middle East and pick a nation which is crumbling and intertwined in a destructive civil conflict and you have your example. Syria is all too obvious as Bashir al-Assad had a view of his Alawite minority should be defended by the Druze militias acting as his personal army and all the aid he needed from Iran in arms and even soldiers as things began to go wrong. Bashir al-Assad’s father held the nation together with the glue of fear of his wrath while the son is nowhere near the fearsome leader imbuing strength and competence like his father and before one knew it he was challenged and failed. When an iron fist and the fear of it visiting your little corner of the world is all your nation has holding it together, then you better be ready to use it and use it without mercy or else you are doomed. Such nations are destined to fail from the outset as sooner or later one falls victim to the el-Duce syndrome where the people revolt against your leadership as soon as your power comes into question even if it was your alliance with one megalomaniac that collapses and the next thing you know you are strung up in the town square for a week or so. When the Soviet Union began its surprisingly rapid crumbling from the inside, a friend asked if this was real and if it was, what would be the sign to look for that would signal it was irreversible. As for if it was real, let us say I was as in shock as the next person. As for the sign signaling this truly was the end, that was the easy part so that is what I tackled using that to hedge my answer on belief. I simply told him that I would believe this was the end when Nicolae Ceaușescu fell in Rumania, and sure enough he was the last of the leaders to fall and he fell almost as hard as the European Axis leaders at the end of World War II. The other modern day examples of such failures are Saddam Hussein’s Iraq where the three main societies within have each gone their own way whether by choice, the Kurds in the north, by default, the Shia who hold the power of the governance now, and those who lost outright, the Sunni who are now caught between two enslavers, the Shia government of Iraq and the murderous hordes that are ISIS and they have nowhere to turn as neither the Kurds nor the Shia have any love left for them as they were seen as the cruel oppressors who benefitted from Saddam Hussein’s rule and are now collecting the payment for his sins. Libya is the final example where without a strong leader or the perception of such the entire society reverted back to tribal divisions and will remain each tribe to themselves against the other tribes forming and breaking alliances as it fits them without any possibility of reinstituting a central government which has reach more than twelve blocks in any direction from central Tripoli. There are even those who blame the collapse of the Roman Empire on their failure to incorporate Roman culture, rules and societal structures on those they had conquered at the fringes of their empire which eventually led to the downfall which is a concept with a share of its validity.

 

If such failure of the Roman Empire came from the fraying at its edges of the application of a singular set of societal norms, then we are today witnessing the death throes of the United States as their common heritage and societal norms are currently under assault in the courts where laws are being fortified in defiance of the traditional culture ripping things apart in such a manner as to make the separate, even disparate, parts of the society unglued from each other which may lead to the collapse of that society. The latest and possibly second most destructive tear just was handed down by the Supreme Court with their universal acceptance of same-sex marriage as the law of the land. The real culprit which will eventually topple the United States and potentially all of Western society is multiculturalism which stands that one must honor all others and their customs and no universal set of shared standards can be allowed to stand unassailable by the many and varied lesser cultures within the society. There was a time not that long ago where gun ownership was near universal in the United States and now in most of the major cities gun ownership is not only shunned but illegal which has led to rampant crime as now the criminals do not need a firearm to make them equal to any victim they choose as all they need is two other fellow miscreants to forcibly take anybody’s money by force of numbers, though there are those who prefer not sharing who simply use a weapon, not even necessarily a gun. Then there are those cultures which are forced into remission and made to hide their identity or to regress into enclaves where their numbers provide protection. The day is coming and coming rapidly to the United States shores and is awash over Europe which is pushing the Jews out of society despite the Jews having mostly adopted what was sold to them as the societal norms. The Jews have been consistently seen to be on the leading edge of every trend which came along and was considered enlightened. They were among those marching for civil rights for blacks in the fifties and sixties and have remained supporters of equality of the races through to the current times. They have been at the forefront of the march for gay acceptance and even same-sex marriage. Now that the Jews are the ones being shunned from the college campuses, and trust that which enthralls the masses in the colleges today will be the mainstays of the society ten to twenty years hence; there are already signs that there is sufficient an undercurrent in American subcultures which already hold anti-Semitic feelings which are now slowly emerging from what many would claim were the same centers from which Jew hatreds grew in Europe in the rise of the Nazis. One of the things people seem to forget was the rise of the Nazis had two epicenters and the college campuses were just as important if not more so than the reemergence amongst the rest of the areas blamed for this resurgence of Jew hatred as the ideological leaders more often came from the ivory halls of academia which was also one of the first places that the Jews were banned, from either attending or teaching in the universities. How much longer before such purges strike Western nations’ colleges and universities. It already happens on many campuses for a period every year during the heights of Israel Apartheid Week or during pro-Palestinian celebrations which have started to resemble the pogroms of Russia and the Inquisitions and other cleansings in Europe where the Jews were singled out for exclusion from the society often simply by their being expelled with only the possessions they had packed in a suitcase or two readied ahead of the pitchforks and angry mobs wielding them and other times by simply removing them permanently often burning them at the stake and other methods the crown would demand during their frenzied assault on the other, the Jew.

 

When that befalls western culture once again it will have started in the exact same place but with a slightly different target, the unfitness of the unborn. The undertaking has traditionally been referred to as Eugenics Movement. The idea of eugenics reaches back at least as far as Plato who called for the formation of a guardian race of selective breeding of those who were of superior mind and body, the mating of the cream of humanity to produce a master race. Sound familiar? Francis Galton, the half-cousin Charles Darwin, had taken his relative’s work on evolution and the survival of the fittest and applied it to be used within the human populations to breed the perfect human being and for the removal of those who were inferior. He coined the word Eugenics and eventually it became a course of study in the universities leading to a movement started around a core of its most ardent and adamant proponents and the rest is history. What is less well known is that the forefront of the Eugenics movement formed in the United States and its acceptance was so universal that it was from the United States that the most strident proponents of eugenics emerged. Such names at the front in founding the eugenics movement in their day and up to today are the poet Carl Sandburg, the aviator Charles Lindbergh, the mother of Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger, the Perfect Human Society and an interesting proponent in current times, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel who was instrumental in the drafting of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare. People might be shocked to be informed that Planned Parenthood has not always been the equal provider of alternatives for those who either desire preventive methods to avoid pregnancies or alternatives to carrying, their terms to birth of the child, a fetal mass to its conclusive child bearing as it would cause the mother undue mental stresses and interfere directly with their pursuits in life, it originally was used to sterilize those seen as unfit to have children thus forcing a eugenics program which was, as it is today, centered in minority neighborhoods. Providing you desire to seek the reality that is Planned Parenthood all one need to do is to research Margaret Sanger and her relationship with what we would today refer to as black genocide, it is not a pretty picture. There comes now another eugenics styled movement and this time the target will be traditions, the very traditions which were the glue of Western culture and society for the last two millennia.

 

The scissors that cut the pages into confetti will be forged by multiculturalism where no culture is to be preferred because we are blinding ourselves to such observations and the axe which will sever the binding making the job of the scissors even easier will be the axe taken to the Judeo-Christian culture and in particular to cut the binding of that book which professes that there are such things as good and evil, there is such a concept as right and wrong, that a life lived with proper restraints is life to be pursued, the book that once graced nearly every house and every hotel room across the United States and now a book scorned as old, out of fashion and obsolete, but the Bible is that book which we could learn where our new follies will lead, they will lead to the same place they have always led, ruination and the destruction of all that made the Western World strong. Choosing to lose ourselves in a culture of any culture of the moment is the culture we desire to raise up, but we cannot raise up debauchery and the damnation of human life as equal to the pursuit of a good life spent rejoicing in the gift that life provides and not seeking some manner of faith which demands of us surrender or die, such is a choice without a choice. We need return to our former ideals which permit those whose cultures differ to continue such practice in their private times and spaces such as their homes and houses of worship, but also we demanded they accept our cultural rules when in public. The Western culture allowed for certain irregularities such as special religious clothing being worn in public and even providing areas for prayer permitting such did not interfere with the performance of one’s job and was committed off the clock and on the individual’s own time as the whole cannot be forced to pay them for their private time spent praying and not producing things of mutual gain as that is what working at a job is, producing things for mutual gains, a cooperative effort and a central pillar of our traditional society.

 

Schools were a place where we learned about our mutual culture and were able to master those basic tenets which supported the society, and where we learned how to think and not so much exactly what to think though guidelines were imposed and what was out of bounds was ingrained. We even learned to cooperate through sports where we also learned the easy joys of winning and even more importantly how to cope with losing and thus with failure. The best amongst us learned that failure was not the end but rather a stop where we reassessed our priorities and assumptions making changes where we found things in error or lacking altogether and then proceeded on towards our ultimate goal. Further we learned, were we that fortunate, lucky even, that failures come in the thousands and that success comes only to those willing to fail and fail repeatedly and learning from each failure where we diverted from our goals and how to get back on track. Are there ideas whose failure is guaranteed and where one can never fully achieve the goal? Yes. We can never make a machine which is 100% efficient as in all things there is that degree of wasted effort, effort which does not contribute to the completion and realization of the goal. In a machine that goal is the product such as a generator making electricity; we use water, steam, explosive fuels all to drive the generator to make electricity but there are losses to friction and pushing the generator against the resistive magnetic forces induced in the coils which does not directly produce the electricity but which must be overcome. The same is true in life. Sleep is something our bodies must submit to or we will eventually collapse and possibly die. Still, it is sometimes in our dreams that the spark bursts forth solving some vexing problem which assists the project to completion. Such is an exception and even that spark was not the only dream we enjoyed or endured, and there were the periods of sleep which were used as a dedicated means of repairing and preparing the body for the next day. Another item which obviously diverts us from achieving goals but may be necessary in order to reach our goals are the failures along the way. Lessor peoples will allow failures to prevent them from trying and just surrender to their failures. That is not an intricate part of our society until recently when we found ways of rewarding those who become mired in failure.

 

Another casualty in our modern society is the loosening of the moral structure. In the lives of the vast majority of the population, and to a limited extent to all of the population not restricted to an asylum (do we even have asylums any longer to care for the elderly and the comatose?) as we all wear clothing though some wear far less than others; we all eat and sleep as nature insists on these; and we all live and let live because if large segments of the society, and it need not be more than ten to twenty percent of a society, take to being belligerent and resorting to murdering those who they fear or refuse to submit; then the society will fracture and it will soon become a free-for-all with every faction against the rest; see Libya, Syria or Iraq for current examples. What many do not realize is this is rapidly becoming the definition of Western culture. The society of the Western World has become unmoored and without an anchor with which to tie off and provide immovability, permanence and the Western World has rapidly been cranking the centerboard retrieving it from below the boat allowing the winds to blow us as they may while our ability to steer the boat has failed without the centerboard. That centerboard was western Judeo-Christian ethics and the anchor was the ideal of hard work will produce and provide for one and one’s family and charity would take care of the few who for reasons often beyond their control are unable to find a place within our society. We did not used to change our society such that everybody’s quirks or the beliefs of those coming to our shores being used as a cudgel with which to beat and force us to alter our religious and social structures which we have held dear fashioning our societal norms around and have worked just fine for us and is tried and true. Therein lies the current problem, we in the West have doubted our own culture while allowing another culture whose adherents have little doubt that it is superior to all the Western World has ever known and that the Western World must be cowed and beaten into submission, and that is termed our surrendering to Allah. Do not mistake Allah for the same as G0d in our Judeo-Christian society as Hashem does not demand surrender but instead reason, trust and faith. The easiest manner to present a difference is to look at the lineage of belief. In Judeo-Christian ethics the line of faith flows through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while Islam and Allah follow the lineage of belief through Abraham, Ishmael and Mohammad. Perhaps this is as good a place to stop before I get into deeper troubles and this is way more sufficient amount to chew of for one day. With any luck I’ll get into this stranger side of my reasoning after a decent period of rest. Thank you all for reading this far and may your life be blessed only with those failings which aid you in your journeys and make you a stronger and better you, even if others spend some time confused at what you are trying to say, and boy have I spent time on that bus.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 16, 2015

Anti-Semitism Rising Yet It Can’t Happen Here

 

Any sane person, one might think, would not doubt that anti-Semitism is rising in the four corners of the globe. While that is true, each admission of that carries an additional modifier. That modifier is the exact same modifier used by Jews everywhere from the beginning of Judaism as a major religion, “It can’t happen here.” Now, that modifier always has some accompanying rationalizations such as the following: We Jews are an intricate part of the society; we are accepted in society; we are seen as judges, lawyers, businesspeople, and are even elected to positions in government; we Jews are accepted and assimilated; and my favorite, this isn’t Nazi Germany, this is America. There is one item from the previous which has always puzzled me, how it is such an intelligent people, as Jews presumably are, can misunderstand that their being assimilated does not infer automatically that the population has assimilated them into the whole. There are other qualifiers and whatever one you can dream up is probably used by some Jews somewhere. What is really ridiculous is when there are leaders of Jewish society, the central pillar around which the community seeks wisdom and guidance, the Rabbis who when asked, “Should not the Jews leave here and seek someplace less threatening to live?” They answer, “No, of course not. Why would you suggest that? This has been our home and the homes of our families for generations. We have a lot invested in this community.” And my favorite and usually their final rationalization, “The authorities have promised to help us and keep the peace and guard against any further anti-Semitism.” Do not get me wrong, they honestly feel that these rationalizations are completely valid and hold water. They refuse to see that the actual realities have struck holes in their every argument.

 

Things in Europe are at the worse and mostly beyond the cusp range of realities; so I will stick with the queries and responses we received when we began telling the other members of the congregation with whom we had a familiar friendship. First allow me to point out that those with whom we still converse online and the Rabbi all supported our making Aliyah and gave it their blessings if not their desire that it be they who were going to live in Eretz Yisroel. But the others gave responses such as, “Why would you want to go there? You are leaving the United States? But things are so much more civil here. Aren’t you worried about the terrorism? And our favorite, you will be returning here within a year once you see what it is like in Israel. I’ve been there and I know. Those naysayers were wrong. We’ve been here well over a year and are loving it. I, myself, have never felt more comfortable and accepted as I have here and can only imagine how much more so once we have mastered Hebrew, at least master enough to, through spits and starts, get through an entire thought.

 

That little anecdotal trip down memory lane was to point out we have seen this attitude play itself out in our own experience. Of course, as mentioned, our friends all expressed their longing to make Aliyah and come to Israel and many expected to do so in the near future, but time will tell on that. Getting to make Aliyah as a Jew is no longer you show up and announce that you are Jewish, kiss the ground, and be granted immediate citizenship. The paperwork we filled out made a pile almost rivaling the stuff we brought with us. OK, that was a bit of an exaggeration. Still, the process for us was a little complicated and took over two years to complete and during that time it had its many ups, downs and why would they need to know this questions. Eventually we completed the process and many of the items we were puzzled why they were necessary proved not to be required but was stuff they gathered for statistical reasons. OK, so you were collecting mega-data, why didn’t you just say so, we’ve heard about Edward Snowden, we would have understood, honest.

 

Our making Aliyah had to do with a young nine year old boy promising himself, the worst promise you can make because it requires you to either complete the promise or let yourself down, that when the time came and all things in America were fulfilled he would retire in Israel, something the wiffie really might have preferred knowing about before we got married, but she already knew I was a bit strange, right, quite strange, well, if you insist, beyond the cusp strange! There, I’ve admitted it, happy? Still, it may have been the most advantageous thing we ever did as it changed our lives for the better and really opened up our lives much as a rose stretches out its petal to greet the morning sun and drink up the warmth and the blessed energy G0d has seen in His wisdom to provide for that rose bud so tightly shuttered to awaken stretching out revealing its beauty and spreading its fragrance for all to inhale and exclaim that this is a beautiful day. That is how we awaken here most mornings.

 

Back to the subject which is as horrific and threatening as our returning home to Eretz Yisroel was rewarding and enriching. The news we read about places in Europe such as Malmo, London, Toulouse, and numerous other places are horrific and makes us feel for those Jews residing amongst such hatreds it amazes us that they don’t simply pick up their lives and come to Israel. Surprisingly, even including all the terrorism within the Green Line in Israel, you are still safer in Israel than you are from crime in the United States or Europe, surprising but true. Yet not only do these people continue to live in places where their lives are under threat both day and night, but their Rabbis all tell them it is the Jewish thing to do to remain in defiance to the threats. Where in all that is holy is that written? Looking back over the past year or so in the United States, pulling solely from news stories, I am able to remember we have had some horrific acts of anti-Semitism. There was the Rabbi visiting family in Florida walking to synagogue in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood who was approached by two youths, at least younger adults if not teens, a brief exchange of words, the sound of gunfire and the two youths walked away calmly leaving the Rabbi sprawled out dead on the pavement. The Florida local police listed this as a robbery gone bad, as if the youths had no realization that religious Jews, which the attire of the Rabbi was obvious, do not carry money or items of wealth on the Sabbath. There have been near countless desecration of Jewish cemeteries or the Jewish section of a cemetery yard throughout the United States and ten times worse in Europe. There have been desecration committed against Holocaust memorials often accompanied by writings on such structures of “Jews to the gas,” “Hitler was right,” “Jews get out,” “Holocaust was a myth,” “We are the new Holocaust” amongst numerous other defamations of this ilk. Then there was a stretch of time where a “game” which became known as the “knockout the Jew” game where a member of a group of youths as they passed somebody sporting Jewish identifying clothing would attempt to one-punch the targeted Jew at a minimum knocking them off their feet or knocking them unconscious, scoring howls and celebratory knuckle tapping in recognition of this person’s singular accomplishment. Eventually this happening caught sufficient attention from the authorities, especially after one elderly man died from his wounds from striking his head on a curb after being struck as part of this fun game. There have been defiling of synagogues with such an event just this past week in Gaithersburg, Maryland. which is located in Montgomery County. which is heavily Jewish with a percentage of eighteen and two-tenths. That is actually a very impressive percentage when one figures in the percentage of people in the world who are Jews, a whopping two-one hundredths of one percent, for those who might be having difficulty with realizing how small a percentage that is, allow me to reference it in other ways, 0.02% which mathematically comes out to 0.0002 Jews per unit of population, one would require counting out a section of any random grouping of people from around the world a staggering five-thousand people in order to have relative assurance that there would be a single Jew in the group. Perhaps placing a bit of writing that Mark Twain once wrote about the Jewish people will be far more impressive than anything I could ever imagine up, so the rest is from Mark Twain’s essay “All Things are Mortal but the Jew”* also referred to as “The Eternal Jew.”

 

If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.
His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him.
He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.
The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind.
All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

 

Beyond the Cusp

 
* “Concerning The Jews,” Harper’s Magazine, 1899
The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, Doubleday [1963] pg. 249

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