Indeed. Why CAN'T we all just get along with each other? In a time and place where people are encouraged to live and die by single issues, and to distance themselves from anyone who doesn't look or speak or act exactly like them, why can't there be a critical mass of people who say "to hell with the past; let's begin again from a better starting point, one based on mutual respect and mutual aid"?
My Sweetie bravely co-facilitated an amazing event at our synagogue last week. People came together and talked about the Black Lives Matter movement, from a Jewish perspective. Some told powerful stories on what it means to raise biracial or black children in Jewish community; or what it's like to be both black and Jewish. Others asked "What does it mean to 'step up' and listen to the pain of people of color; acknowledge one's own white privilege; and then to do the work of demanding and creating equality for all, without letting our tortured histories and past mistakes limit our vision?
The very next day, BLM released its platform, which included a plank that was anti-Israel (and which many Jews say is also anti-Semitic). Established Jewish organizations howled in unison, urging their constituents NOT to support BLM as long as this plank remains part of their platform. And now I worry that the good work begun in a little shul in Portland, Oregon will stall or be undone outright, because of fear, ostracizing and worse on all sides of the discussion.
It worries me that there are organizations which benefit from continuing the sense of conflict by whatever means necessary, which rely upon the fear-mongering, paranoia and emphasis on distinction in order to remain viable (both politically AND fiscally, because let's face it, the movie "Wag The Dog" wasn't entirely fiction).
I understand the need for distinction at the start of new movements for justice. But eventually there needs to be a movement towards greater unity and justice for all. If all we can do as a human race is cling to our distinctions to the point of ignoring the needs of others, we will fail as a society -- and I believe we risk bringing about the destruction of our world.
I want to -- I MUST -- believe that there are ways to embrace my Judaism without sacrificing my desire for greater unity for all humanity. I need to believe that my Judaism does not require me to separate myself from the rest of the world. If I'm wrong, then we are all in trouble. If I'm right, then I hope to find others who are thinking along the same lines. Because all of this division is breaking my heart, and the hearts of so many, over and over again; and it has to stop. Speedily and in our day, O God.