Showing posts with label Forgiveness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Forgiveness. Show all posts

February 6, 2019

State Of Our Politicians

Last night was the State of the Union...

But this morning, I still can't help thinking about the State of our Politicians. 

The picture from Virginia governor, Ralph Northam medical school yearbook is outrageous, and yet he refuses to step down.

This didn't happen when he was kid, but as a responsible adult. 

And even for those of us who believe in personnel change and forgiveness, there has to be accountability for something this callous, hurtful, bigoted and offensive. 

What happened to our politicians being true patriots, looking out for our good and the best interests of our nation?

One lady said to a group of us last evening:
I know who I am going to vote for in the next elections, and it's NO ONE currently in political office!

To which another gentleman replied:
It doesn't matter who you vote for, a politician always wins.

Somehow, I still have faith that there are people who can rise to the occasion and be the leaders that they must be. ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 30, 2018

That's The Power Of Love

Please see my new article in Times of Israel called, "Shabbat Nachamu: That's The Power of Love."

We don't have to fight, but even when we fight, we can overcome through compassion, love, and constructive reconciliation.  

Love and friendship can win over anger and fighting, and help to usher in the ultimate redemption. 

Hope you enjoy the article. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 20, 2018

How Angry Do You Get?

Anger is one of those emotions (like jealousy) that can clearly get the best of people. 

Hence, the term anger management!

The Talmud teaches that there are 3 ways to know a person's real character: 

- Koso, Kiso, and Ka'aso.

From Aramaic to English it translates as:

- Cup, Purse, and Anger. 

In other words...

Cup--When a person "drinks," this is how they handle their alcohol and how they act when physically (or perhaps emotionally) inebriated or as we say, "When the wine goes in, the secrets come out!" Are they jumping on the bar, ripping it all off and saying and doing the inappropriate and profane or are they able to recognize their point of weakness and ask someone for a ride safely home. 

Purse--This is how a person handles money (and power). Materialism of people speaks volumes. Are they cheap, misery, and narcissistic or compassionate, caring, and giving to others.  

Anger--When a person is angry, this is often when their "true colors" show.  Do they get mean, bullying, abusive, and violent--do they go for the throat and the kill or are they situationally aware, measured, and do they listen, understand, and are they able to cope well when "under the gun."  

Focusing on the anger piece...

It's easy to get angry, and it's also easy to look for a scapegoat and let it out on people that really have nothing to do with why you're really angry. 

Maybe people can't always address their anger with the true source, maybe they don't even recognize their feelings fully, or have no idea how to safely release and reset.

In any case, anger is a dangerous emotion if not dealt with. 

Many mistakes are made that cannot be undone when people lose their cool (or sh*t, as now seems more commonly said). 

Thoughts on this...

Take a breath, slow down. 

Evaluate what's really going on

Think about whether it's truly the end of the world or not. 

Assess the options for coping with it. 

Look for ways to deescalate and resolve. 

If necessary, seek help from others.

Finally, where possible be compassionate and forgiving. 

And where not, cope, cope, cope--and survive another day!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 28, 2018

Breaking The Cycle Of Trauma

Thought these are some beautiful sentiments about breaking the cycle of trauma in our lives: 
"Hurt people hurt people. 
That's how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation. 
Break the chain today. 
Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. 
Greet grimaces with smiles. 
Forgive and forget about finding fault. 
Love is the weapon of the future."
- Yehuda Berg, The Kabbalah Center

This is powerful--it should only be that we can have a complete healing, betterment, and a renewal of peace for all. 

One other thing that I heard that was so plain and simple, yet so smart was that:
Our job in this world is to do the most good that we can do!

Thank you to Minna Blumenthal for sharing all this.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

September 16, 2017

The Ultimate Rejection (Not)

Ok, folks.

This picture is not the message you want to get before Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year and time of judgment). 

We want to see the long hand of G-d come down with love, caring, forgiveness, and blessings!

A flick of the Almighty index finger, definitely not what we want to see or get.  

Worse would be getting the middle finger, of course. 

But I definitely don't think G-d does that! 

Talking about rejection with a big R. 

To all my family and friends, a most happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 4, 2017

The Excuses We Make

So on the way to the airport, I am talking with the Uber driver. 

"There is such a discrepancy between the rich and the poor here," I say.

"Yeah," she says, "When I drive and stop at the lights, there are many poor people that come up to the car looking for a handout."

She continues, "I usually have a few dollars here" pointing to the little cubby hole under the parking break. 

"But my friends make fun of me saying, they [the panhandlers] are just going to go out and buy a beer!"

Excuse #1 not to give poor people--they'll misuse our charity and buy alcohol, drugs, or prostitutes. 

The driver says, "But so what...if I were in their shoes, I'd buy a beer too."

I'm thinking, hey this is nice...she's fighting the bad inclination and her friends pressure and still wants to give--this is great!

Sure enough, we stop at a red light, and a really poor man starts walking up to the window to ask for help.

This person is dressed in dirty battered rags of an undershirt, and has sores on their arms and body.

The driver says, "Yeah, if I gave him, he'd probably just switch his shirt inside out later [as if the other side would be magically less dirty and ripped] and go home to his Rolls Royce!"

Wow, when excuse #1 doesn't hold...

Excuse #2--the poor people are just faking it...really they aren't poor, but rather they are fantastically rich and trying to pocket some more money for free.

It's like the evil inclination sitting on one shoulder telling us "don't give,"  even as the good inclination is sitting over our other shoulder beseeching us to have mercy and "give, give, give."

In this case, the evil inclination won out. 

I reached for my wallet and wanted to open my window, but honestly this person looked scary--dirty and maybe sick--I was afraid of this person. 

I hope G-d forgives me, because I feel it wasn't my evil inclination making excuses, but this time it was genuine for me. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 26, 2017

Taking It Back

So I was watching Baahubali, the highest grossing movie in India, ever. 

Enjoyed the Bollywood action and pageantry and am looking forward to the sequel coming out this week.

There was one line in the movie, spoken between swordsmen that stood out to me:

"Spoken words and spilled blood can never be taken back."

Mean and harsh word can cut like a knife and hurting someone with words or deeds, can never really be taken back. 

Sure, we can ask for forgiveness and try to make amends.

But it's like once you let the genie out the bottle, you can never really put her and keep her back in. 

A veteran recently fought to have a VA hospital in Florida put the picture of the President up instead of the blank frame on the wall they had (some nonsensical notion of resistance indicating "not my president")--the veteran said about trying to right this wrong:
"It's like trying to put 5 pounds of baloney back in a bag that only holds 2 pounds."

People are doing bad things and saying bad these things these days that can't be just taken back. 

Family, friends, and colleagues--are fighting it out and splitting up.

Each side tells themselves and the other that their cause is right and noble.  

But how much of it is really just brainwashing, hyperbole, and politicking?

While our values as individuals and as a nation should never be put at stake, maybe we could get more done and better by working together than spilling blood--friend and friend, neighbor and neighbor. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

October 27, 2016

Turning To Love

Just an observation about love today.

But it seems that it's far easier and more frequent to see love turn to hate and resentment than vice versa.

It's a lot easier to destroy a relationship (or any success) than to build it to begin with.

Even as we talk about forgiveness and loving thy neighbor, it seems that more often than not negative feelings are at best turned to acceptance or neutral feelings rather than back to true endearment.

This state is often accompanied by such fears or protectionist sayings as "leopards don't change their spots" or "love once lost is lost forever."

While we may be willing to turn the other cheek for a moment or even a while, bad feelings and distrust towards another does not make the leap back to closeness and an endearing, loving relationship all that often.

Of course, there are exceptions where through trust building measures and "easing of sanctions" or hostilities, we can over time rebuild a relationship and become allies or partners again.

However, it is far easier to break trust and lose love then to ever rebuild and recover it.

All the more reason to cherish our meaningful relationships and make love count, sing, and dance for us every moment of every day. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 13, 2016

Shut Up In Shul

So today, I went to synagogue for Shabbat. 

I sat by one of my friends and in between some prayers was catching up with him from the week. 

Okay, I know that I shouldn't be talking (so much) in shule, but it is an important way for me to connect with other Jewish people and community. 

Then all of a sudden, another person says to me without any warning, "Shut up!"

At first, I thought it was a joke, then he says it again with a serious face, and I was so embarrassed. 

And only partially for me, but maybe even more for him.

What type of person uses that type of language to someone and in synagogue. 

He didn't say, can you keep it down or let's focus on our prayers or something human and kind. 

Instead, he talked to me like an animal and I couldn't believe it and tonight is Tisha B'Av, when Hashem twice destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (in part it is said because of hatred of Jew against Jew). 

It reminded me of how I saw some horrible videos on Facebook this week of Chasidim from Neturei Karta and Satmar protesting against Israel and their fellow Jewish people...what a complete sickness to wish evil and destruction against your own brothers and sisters, rather than helping them to build and grow a beautiful state in service to G-d and a light unto nations. 

In synagogue today, while I was silent before this person's horrible words of rebuke, my friend said to him, "This is how you talk?  You say shut up [and in shul]!"

I appreciated that he said something, and the other guy actually apologized then.

I hope Hashem can forgive me for talking in shule and the people who treat each other badly. 

I am sad at how twisted religion has gotten to some, and know this is not the way it is supposed to be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 7, 2015

Don't Know When I'll See You Again

So in synagogue today, the Rabbi introduced this very old man to the pulpit to say a few words. 

Apparently, he was one of the founders of the shule. 

This grey headed, stooped man walks slowly forward carrying a small oxygen tank with wires dangling in his jacket and to his nose. 

The man stands on the dais and says:

"I am 91-years old, and the doctor says  I have this, that, and the other thing, and I am terminal. 

It was very hard for me to get here today in my condition, but I wanted to speak with you all. 

I have lived a good life, but not an easy life. 

My life was a rollercoaster--at one time I had six cars and another time just one car, for the most part I had enough money, but never a lot of money. 

Now, I ask myself what is really important. 

When I have shortness of breath then nothing seems so important anymore--and it is the simple things that really count. 

My son called the other day to tell me that he is being given more responsibility at work--not just his teaching responsibilities anymore--and he won't have time to call so often anymore. 

So while I've studied and explored all facets of thinking from Shintoism and Buddhism to communism and socialism, in the end, I realized that I have the Torah and am a just simple Jew from Fez. 

I wanted to be here with you today to ask you all for your forgiveness so that I can go on as I am very sick and am terminal.  

I don't know when I will get to see you all again." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

October 11, 2015

Imagining The Unimaginable

So today, I am imagining the unimaginable, and thinking the unthinkable. 

What if extremists in Iran stopped hating Israel and the United States, and instead liked or even loved us?

Not because of the recent agreement on nukes and lifting of sanctions, but actually in spite of it--because as the Ayatollah has said, he prohibits any further negotiations and often refers to the U.S. as it's enemy (the only thing missing is the usual Iranian chants of "Death to America!").

But today, I saw the Iranian family again the I referred to in a Sept. 27 blog post, where the father had a stroke and the son comes on the weekends from Texas to help his father with physical and occupational therapy to recuperate. 

Well today, I saw the daughter too, and both she and the son where in the pool trying to help the father in every way to move and walk again. They swarmed around him in such loving-kindness, I couldn't believe the amazing display of love and devotion to any parent or disabled person. They were all there for him!

And my heart opened up, and I couldn't help thinking what if the Iranian leadership could be moderated by average normal people who just want to care for their families, earn a living, and worship and live in freedom? 

What if the Iranian leadership could learn to forgive and love again those who they have hated for so long and so much--the USA and Israel?

If the U.S. can forgive Iran for the hostage crisis that took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 long days and the bombing of the Beirut barracks that killed 241 marines, and Israel can forgive the endless Hezbollah terror attacks, the bombing of the Argentinian Jewish Center that killed 29 and wounded 250, the Holocaust denial, and threats of maniacal genocide...then surely, Iran can forgive the U.S.'s role in the 1953 coup that brought the Shah to power and can forgive Israel for merely existing!

As a son of Holocaust survivors, I am a die-hard for the defense and security of the Jewish people, so maybe today I am just being naive, foolish, or letting my imagination run wild. 

But I feel that Hashem is putting the words on the screen through my fingertips...what if Esau can stop hating Jacob? What if Iran can stop hating the USA and Israel and there can be peace and not war?

This is a fantasy, but perhaps it can become a reality.

Instead of the cycle of hate, the sponsorship of terror, the secret building of nukes, and aggression escalating until ultimately major devastating military strikes...instead imagine abandoning the old hateful and belligerent ways...imagine forgiveness for the past transgressions and affronts...imagine peace!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 27, 2014

Heaven To Look Forward To

Took the family today to see the movie Heaven Is Real.

We were all crying like babies, including me. 


Loved it!


When the boy has a near-death experience (NDE) and sees heaven, he comes back with stories about it being like here but more beautiful, where everyone is young, and relatives long gone hug him.


In heaven, there is no hate or fear--only love. 


It was eye-opening, when his father, a pastor, goes to the hospital to say the last prayers with a dying man and the pastor asks, "Do you have any regrets?" and the old man answers, "I regret everything!"


While living for our selfish satisfaction and fun may be great for a moment's high, it is certainly not a life of meaning and purpose--and will not open the gates of heaven to us. 


That life is hard is portrayed in the movie--with loss, physical hurt, and financial hardships.


But when these are viewed in the bigger picture as tests in life for us to overcome in order to merit a heaven that awaits us--perhaps this gives us some added perspective. 


In the movie, as in real life, there are those who are angry at others and G-d for what they lost, and it is our challenge to replace that anger with understanding, forgiveness, and love of each other and the Almighty. 


Regretting everything is tragic, but probably not that unrealistic for many of us...particularly in a world where we constantly strive for our individualized versions of perfection. 


In the end, I think our failures weigh on us and it's challenging to see past them to appreciate our successes as well--in whatever measure we've achieved them.


Let's face it, it is not easy to maintain 100% purity of heart amidst a world of lust, envy, and sin--but that should not take away from us constantly trying. 


Heaven awaits--even the imperfect. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

January 12, 2014

On Friends and Enemies

Over the weekend, I read/heard two great quotes about the nature of friends and enemies:

1) The first was from Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal where she reminds us of a political rule that "Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate."  Really this applies in all of life, a few real friends may last over an entire lifetime, but most others are transient, such as in school, at work, or in a community, but when you leave that place or circumstance, the friendships often do not persist. However, enemies seem to last forever, where people never forget when they feel they've been wronged and these people may actually seek each other out and even join forces to get their contemplated revenge. The fight is not always fair or just, but people's feelings when they think they've been wronged, hang in the air, like the stench of decaying carcasses. Something to beware of. 

2) The second was from a martial arts movie called Ninja 2 where one of the characters says to a martial arts expert, whose wife was brutally murdered, "The man who seeks revenge should dig two graves." Upon which, the martial artist wittingly responds, "They'll need to dig a lot more than that," and in the movie, the Ninja exacted his revenge on the drug lord and his gang for the murder they committed. 

My impressions are that we should try to be good people and have a broad positive influence in the world. With some people, we will find true friendship--and very often, there is an almost unexplainable chemistry to this, where it just clicks--and it's as if we've known this person not only in this lifetime, but in prior lifetimes as well. In other cases, the friendships are more temporal based on shared circumstance, camaraderie, or even an alliance or sorts, and these really are not sustained when one or both parties move on. And that's okay, not every friendship is deep and forever. 

In terms of enemies, you know it when you have it. Again, chemistry may play a role or one person may have indeed wronged the other. Sometimes, people can learn from making a mistake, they can apologize, commit to do better in the future, and there can be forgiveness. In other circumstances, the blood between people is bad and won't get better, because there is scarcity, misunderstanding, bias, or even blind hatred. In these cases, it often seems as if no amount of communication, negotiation, or bending over backwards will resolve it. You can try--it's always worth a try--but be prepared to circle the wagons and defend yourself, if all else fails. 

Finally, a wrongful act can be so brutal and egregious that at times it seems that only a "joust to the death" will do, but revenge in the end, does not bring anybody back or undue the harm done. Yes, when justice is done, the world seems somehow righted and the fallen can be released from their painful throes and go on in peace, and maybe the evil aggressor will be prevented from hurting others in the future. In the end, the smell of peace is the sweetest of all, when we can live and let live. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 13, 2013

For Yom Kippur



Share/Save/Bookmark

March 22, 2013

Down In The Dumps

This is a display at a retailer in posh Rockville, Maryland.

As crazy as these mugs are including their $4 price tag, what adds to this comical scene is that there is the broom leaning up against the stack on the right, which I suppose you would rightfully need if these mugs were accurate. 

I am sitting here thinking (briefly--very) about what exactly the social commentary is for these nasty mugs, and I believe that this is about people wanting to let down their (no, not their pants!) facade of perfection and propriety and having to do everything right at work and at home, and just instead for a while being silly, crude, and even (a little) stupid.  

It's like the person who says the most inappropriate thing at the most inappropriate time and says, "Did I say that?" And everyone starts laughing as the tension of the moment is swept away. 

I think to some extent we all need that...to break the tension of the everyday rat race we live, and to give everyone pause to just say or do something a little silly and for everyone just to laugh it off. And then the real business can go on with everyone knowing that there are real human beings behind those suits and stone faces. 

Anyway, this was probably the strangest display in a retail store I have seen, outside of the Village in New York City, but that's another story. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 25, 2012

OMG Diesel


Before the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, I wanted to share this beautiful photo that my daughter took of the skyline. 

I love the contrast of the sky, clouds, sunrise, and treeline--it is awesome! 

When I look at it, I feel less angry at her for accidentally filling the car today with diesel--oops. 

Helps me remember that we all learn by sometimes making mistakes.

I am just glad everyone came out okay and all that was lost was some money on siphoning out the gas tank and refilling it again with regular. 

Thank G-d for that beautiful skyline photo, it is helping me keep perspective today. ;-)

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

February 23, 2012

Boy Loses Arm, Girl Loses Memory

I had the opportunity to watch an absolutely brilliant movie called Aftershock (2010) about the 1976 Tangshan earthquake (7.8 on the Richter scale) that leveled the city and killed more than 240,000 people in China. 

The movie is beautifully filmed and the events recreated with tremendous clarity--I could feel as if I was there and I literally cried for the these poor people. 

In the film a women is saved in the quake by her husband who dies trying to go back into the falling building to save their children--twins, a boy and a girl, age 6--who themselves end up buried under the rubble.  

The mother begs others to save (both) her children, but a rescuer tells her that when they try to move the concrete slab that's pinning them down--this way or that--it will mean that one of her children will die.

She cannot choose, but at the risk of losing both children, she finally says "save my son."  

The girl hears her beneath the rubble--and tears are running down her face with the emotional devastation of not being chosen by her own mother for life.

The mother carries what she believes is her daughter's dead body and lays it next to the husband--she weeps and begs forgiveness.

The story continues with rebirth and renewal...the boy survives but loses his arm in the quake and the girl also lives but loses her memory (first from post-traumatic stress--she can't even talk--then apparently from the anger at her mother's choice).

Each child faces a daunting future with their disabilities--the boy physically and the girl emotionally, but each fights to overcome and ultimately succeed.

The boy who is feared can never do anything with only one arm--ends up with a  successful business, family, home, car, and caring for his heart-broken mother. 

The girl who is raised by army foster parents struggles to forgive her mother--"it's not that I don't remember, it's that I can't forget"--and after 32 years finally goes back and heals with her.  

The mother never remarries--she stays married in her mind to the man who loved her so much and sacrificed his life for hers.  And she stays in Tangshan--never moving, waiting somehow for her daughter to return--from the (un)dead--but she is emotionally haunted all the years waiting and morning--"You don't know what losing something means until you've lost it."

The brother and sister finally find each other as part of the Tangshan Rescue Team--they each go back to save others buried in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed almost another 70,000.

Some amazing themes from the movie: 

- "You're family is always your family," even despite wrongs that we do to each other, we are challenged to somehow find forgiveness and to love and extend ourselves for those who have given so much to us. 

- "Some people are living, others only suffer." After the earthquake, as with any such disaster, the living question why they survived and other didn't. Similarly, we frequently ask ourselves, why some people seem to have it "so good," while others don't. But as we learn, each of us has our own mission and challenges to fulfill.

- Disabilities or disadvantages--physical or emotional--may leave others or ourselves thinking that we couldn't or wouldn't succeed, but over time and with persistence we can overcome a missing arms or a broken heart, if we continue to have faith and do the right things.

I loved this movie--and the progression from the horrific destruction of the earthquake to the restoration and renewal of life over many years of struggle was a lesson in both humility of what we mortals are in the face of a trembling ground beneath us or the sometimes horrible choices we have to make, and the fortitude we must show in overcoming these. 

(Source Photo: here)

Share/Save/Bookmark

January 11, 2010

Do What's Right--Anyway

I read this amazing poem and wanted to share it. It is wise and inspiring and provides leadership and life lessons for all.

___________________________________________

Mother Teresa's Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you've got anyway.


Share/Save/Bookmark

September 13, 2009

The Bigger Picture is Beautiful


Just some reflection for the Jewish new year this week.

Enterprise architecture is about planning, governance, and the bigger picture.

This is a short inspirational video of the real bigger picture out there.

http://www.blessyoumovie.com/

Let this serve as a source of encouragement to all.

Andy

Share/Save/Bookmark