Last night we turned the clocks back an hour. And people celebrate with an extra hour of sleep. I am not that lucky. I am up early every morning no matter what time I went to bed or what time the clock says. So I did what I love to do on Sunday mornings – put on some music and read the Sunday Times. The music I choose often depends on my mood but it has to be readable. Today I chose my Vietnam era music playlist.
It probably has something to do with the image of an African American Pastor from Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC and the Tree of Life Synagogue’s Rabbi standing face to face, arm in arm, in the three-column picture on the front page of the paper. But the music did not resonate. I picked two other playlists and then resigned myself to the one I call “folk music I like”. It has a lot of Simon and Garfunkel. You know: “Hello darkness … Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio … Like a bridge over troubled waters …”
I haven’t finished the paper yet but I have seen at least three articles on anti-Semitism and two full-page ads. The ADL leads with “Never Again. Never is now,” while an article not very far from it asks: “Is It Safe to Be Jewish in New York?” So I hate to say this and I hate to think this but I ask, what is turning back in America? It isn’t just the clocks. It is the sense of complacency and comfort that it can’t happen here. I used to say: America is different. America is an experiment in understanding. America is one of the only countries where there has never been a pogrom.
Technically that is probably still true. (A pogrom is usually associated with an organized or government sponsored massacre.) But a massacre this was and I believe that some responsibility lies with how much vicious hate rhetoric spews out of the head of our government. The clock is teaching. We are falling back into racial and religious divides. We are falling back into anti-immigrant rifts. We are falling back into the rule of violence and we better wake up. It can happen here. It did happen here. The question is what do we do about it.
By not being complacent.
By being aware.
By examining ourselves and our unspoken prejudices.
By forging alliances.
By breaking down walls.
By breaking the silence.
By talking about it.
By calling out hatred and prejudice whenever we see it or hear it.
By calling our elected officials to task.
By exercising our sacred civic duties and getting involved.
By not taking anything for granted – neither our faith, our freedom or our future.