Showing posts with label Free Choice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Free Choice. Show all posts

October 24, 2016

Greatest Danger Is Still Man

Season 7 of "The Walking Dead" kicked off last night, and it was an absolutely devastating storyline

This was the long awaited episode to see what happens after Rick and cohorts are captured and literally put down on their knees in the gravel by the evil and ruthless Negan and his army. 

The killings of Glenn and Abraham by getting their skulls brutally bashed in was one of the most horrific things I have ever seen. 

And forcing Rick to nearly cut off his own child's arm and all the other mental torture and physical abuse he endured left the show's leader and hero, a completely broken man. 

All that they had overcome and survived was now just a shattered history. 

They were overcome, they were defeated, they were wholly broken.

What is amazing is that they could handle the Walking Dead zombies (even hordes of them), but ultimately, it was the evilness of man himself that they could not win against. 

Zombies are dangerous and scary, but man is the most dangerous and brutal predator out there, and the horrific things they can do to each makes everything else pale by comparison. 

Especially, when Negan kills and destroys, he does it with such completele evil joy that it leaves one questioning, how can this whole evil thing exist in a universe created and maintained by a good and merciful G-d. 

My wife said to me that this was a small reminder of what the Holocaust must've been like--with the Nazi's holding a stranglehold of power and committing the most heinous atrocities and genocide against 6 million starving and enslaved Jews held in notorious concentration death camps.

After the show, watching "Talking Dead," viewers indicated that this was the turning point in the whole show, and there was no going back for Rick and his group.

Yet, I am most certain that even if it can no longer be Rick who regains his strength and leadership mantle, there will be another who will rise up and overcome the evil Negan. 

It's a dog eat dog world, and there is always another younger, leaner, and meaner dog in town--hence, every dog has it's day.

Ultimately is that justice?

While perhaps we all wish to see good triumph over evil every time, there are certainly moments when good takes a good walloping. 

And then G-d sends a savior to restore good to it's rightful dominant place in the universe.

In the process though, lives and souls can be shattered and never be the same again. 

Watching the eternal battle between good and evil is what totally tests our faith and gives us the free choice on which side to be on. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 10, 2015

Skip The Religious Brainwashing

So my wife and I took this picture yesterday of this Spongebob outside a matress store, but which you frequently find at places like a car wash.  

It gets some attention when your driving by. 

This cartoon fellow reminded me of something I heard in a movie trailer recently.

It was about people of faith, but rather than relying on being genuinely thoughtful about their beliefs, instead they adhere to a form of brainwashing, where the people in the community are kept in the fold by closing out any and all outside influences. 

When one of the ladies in the community was asked about this, she replied "You know what someone told me about brainwashing? What's wrong with a clean brain!"

While I am a huge proponent of devotion and service to G-d, I think that relying on intentionally keeping people sheltered is not the path to G-d. 

Especially for the Jewish people, who are known as the "People of the Book" for their intense learning of the Torah, intellectual pursuit and challenge is a source of true faith.

Of course, there are bad influences in society--addictive drugs, alcohol dependence, indiscriminate sex, violent and deviant people, and more--and we want to keep our families away from these things and safe.  

Interestingly, when someone is free from drugs and alcohol, they often say that they have been "clean" for so many months or years. 

If that is what a "clean brain" is--then that is a positive thing. 

But if a clean brain is truly cutting people off from education and legitimate worldly pursuits just to force them to follow and keep them in state of brainwashing, then that level of a geder (i.e. gate or limitation) is destructive to the person and community. 

Recently, a 30-year woman, Faigy Meyer, "who broke free from the iron-tight grip of her ultra-conservative Hassidic community" and had been shunned by her family, leapt from a rooftop to her death.

The term iron-grip used in the article sounds like a medieval torture device used to force or keep people at bay, and if that is what the "religious" community is doing so-to-say to limit free choice of their members, then that is not honest belief and practice. 

For myself personally, I lived for some years in a highly religious community that despite having many wonderful people and families was for the most part not very accepting of anyone who believed or practiced not exactly like them--there was no room for that. 

One time, the legacy Rabbi on the pulpit (not the current one who is an extremely fine person that I greatly respect) even warned the members to beware of people in their midst who were not true worshippers (and could be a harmful influence). 

In a closed community thinking, one can feel quite alienated and a huge void of spirituality. 

Thank G-d, in our community with the Magen David Sephardic Synagogue, we have found not only a beautiful love of Hashem, but that mixed with acceptance for everyone to come and participate.

Now we actually love to go to synagogue and look forward to it. It has become a central part of our lives (similar in our own way to how it had been for my beloved father). 

Take away the iron-tight grip, the forcing, the brainwashing and fear of the regular outside world, and you have people from many walks of life, intellectual pursuits and experiences come together to seek and worship G-d with a pure and open heart. 

In a way, it is similar to technology: if you have a closed system (not connected to the Internet and the outside), you have a safe tool, but it is very limited as a standalone. Alternatively, hook the computer up to the Internet and while you take some risks browsing the limits of the virtual world, you come away with so much more you can do and richness in the experience. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle and Andy Blumenthal)
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December 28, 2011

People--What's Inside

People can perform good and kind deeds--they can love and care and share, they can be giving and help others in need, and they can innovate and create magnificent and beautiful works.
Yet, as we all know, people can also do horrible things. It's strange that when people do such things, we call them inhumane acts--I guess that helps to divorce us from their behavior, which we cannot understand or accept.
In Hebrew School we learned that it's as if there is a good angel over one shoulder telling you to do the "right" thing, and a "bad" angel over the other shoulder telling you to do the base and corrupt thing.
We were told that we all have free choice--to choose good over evil--some succeed and some do not. Unfortunately, there are way too many instances of the latter.
- Last week, I followed in horror the news story out of New York, where an elderly women in an elevator was cornered by a man who proceeded to douse her with gasoline and set her afire with a Molotov cocktail. This woman didn't have a fighting chance. She died a gruesome and senseless death.
- This week, I watched "To Catch a Predator" on Dateline with Chris Hansen. After many sessions airing, it is unbelievable that dozens upon dozens of sexual predators keep coming out of the woodwork and descending upon those who they believe are young teens home alone for what they think will be a "good time." This week, they caught a married man with 3 children of his own, someone who worked for Nickelodeon, and even a doctor!
What is remarkable about the Dateline series is that most of the predators know exactly what they are doing is wrong--they openly acknowledge it--yet they seem helpless to stop or control themselves. Many pursued the children even when they suspected it was a sting operation and they would get caught. The bad angel must really have their ears and consciences!
Of course, these examples are just that--snapshots of scary, bad things that people do every day, every moment in time. The flip side is that there are also good people doing extraordinarily good things too. The "CNN Heroes" series is a great example highlighting people feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, healing the sick, and protecting the downtrodden. These are just but some of these admirable and giving actions of decent people in our society.
Sometimes even it's the simple things that no one knows about or sees, but you know you did good. For example, the other day, there was some trash on the staircase going down to the metro. Someone could have easily slid, tripped, and fallen down the stairs. But after seeing numerous people just walk by it and pretend it wasn't even there, one person stopped and took the time to move it and prevent anyone from getting hurt. A simple thing, yet a small good deed in time.
Regardless of how we choose to live our live, the point is really that every choice/action we make can be a pivotal one--like our actions on a scale of justice--that can throw the world (our individual world or literally the entire world) into judgement for good or bad, and therefore we should choose wisely.
In the Torah, where G-d's angels are sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham tries to negotiate for the cities by whether their are 50, 20, 10 and so on good people there. Good people and their deeds count.
So what's inside people that really counts--it's potential. People have the potential to do the greatest acts of love, kindness, and self-sacrifice. But they also have the ability to do the unthinkable and inhumane.
It's challenging to know who and exactly what we are dealing with every day.
Maybe that's where the expression comes from: to hope for the best, but expect the worst. Judge everyone as if their intentions are good, but don't be too surprised when they are not.
While hope and expectations are part of our daily interaction with others, they are not enough. We need to be demanding of good choices of ourselves. Maybe even harder yet, we need to have the courage and strength to stand up to those who choose to listen to the demons that drive them.
(Source Photo: here)

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