Breaking The Divide

It appears that from every direction there is an agenda to divide and separate the human race. There is a war going on and its main goal is to divide one from another. The flames of new and old hatreds are flaring up all over the planet.

Seeking A Connection

Here in the United States there has become a great divide among our people, those for, against or somewhere in the middle of the vaccine controversy . The media, medical field and politicians continue to throw fuel on the fire. This subject has brought on one of the greatest divides of our nation that I have seen in my lifetime.

The issue of yes or no to the vaccine is not what this blog is about.

This blog is about seeking and making the connection to bring our people back together as a community, a national brother and sisterhood.

Presented below is some information that I find not only interesting but perinate to our present time that Rabbi Jonathan Sacks brings out in the last book he wrote before his death in 2020, ‘Morality’ Restoring The Common Good In Divided Times

“Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is an international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author and respected moral voice. The Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations from 1991-2013 and recipient of the 2016 Templeton Prize. He is the author of over thirty book.” (From his bio)

The first chapter in his book ‘Morality’ is on the subject of loneliness, the subject has moved my own thoughts, meditations and prayers.

From the very beginning of his book, Rabbi Sacks begins discussing the history of and dangers of moving from a “We” to an “I” society.

“Increasingly, people are using electronic means of communication rather than face-to-face contact, which itself is potentially dangerous, as health benefits of relationships are quite often associated with actual physical presence.

Loneliness has serious health implications. It has long been associated with psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Recently, strong connections have also been established with physical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

There is a difference between loneliness and social isolation. The first is a subjective, self-reported state, whereas social isolation is an objective condition, usually defined as a lack of contact with family, friends, community and society. Social isolation is itself as harmful to health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and more harmful than obesity. A 2015 study tracking 3.4 million people over seven years showed that individuals judged to be isolated had a 26% greater risk of dying. If they lived alone, the risk was 32% higher.

The evidence by now is compelling that loneliness and isolation are significant health hazards, physically and psychologically.”

Over the past year there has been a hard push to isolate us as individuals and as a people. As one part of the society is screaming to protect it with medical cures, at the same time it is harming our society by producing different forms of isolations. This process is a very visible push from a ‘We’ to an ‘I’ society. This push will bring on a new form of pandemic as the physical and psychological health of our nation begins a sharp turn downward.

“Once we feel that we are really alone and cannot call on neighbors for help, then we are part of a new social poverty, which can be demoralizing and debilitating.” Rabbi Sacks

Friday nights my wife and I sometimes frequent a local Mexican restaurant to relax and bring the work week to a close. We do live in the south in one of those states where we have been given the choice to mask up or not. So we have a healthy mix of those who do and do not. For the most part we all respect where a person is at on the issue.

As we were going into the restaurant a masked couple was coming out and like a most southern folk, I held the door for them, we looked face-to face and they thanked me even though I was not masked. We have to return to mutual respect for one another instead of seeing each other as the enemy.

Next is a spiritual lesson that many misunderstand, this is a very important lesson we need to learn if we are to move back to a “We” society from an “I” society.

Leviticus 19:18
And you should love your fellow man as yourself.

“Concerning this instruction from the Creator, there are two important points that are often overlooked and misunderstood.

  1. This instruction does not necessarily mean that one should do for others exactly what he would do for himself. Each person’s needs and wants are different. Thus, if one would do for others what he would do for himself, it could infringe upon other’s dignity and wishes.

One cannot simply assume that what suits him will suit others. The Torah’s instruction, rather, is to for others as one wishes others would do for him. Just as he would want others to make the effort to find out his likes and dislikes, so too should he try to ascertain their likes and dislikes and act accordingly. The message of “Loving your fellow as yourself” is to love others in the same manner that one wants others to love him.

  1. It is preferable that any feelings or expressions of love for others be rooted completely in the instruction of “And you should love your fellow man as yourself.” For if one acts kindly and lovingly towards others because of personal feelings. Agenda or mood, then he will love only when he is loved back, will only give only when he receives in return, and will be gracious only when in the mood.

One must love others simply because of the instruction.” (Paraphrased from the writings of Orchos Tzaddikim)

In our present situation, fear runs rampant in our society, not everyone’s fear is the same. We need to show respect and care for those whose fear is different from our own. Some allow their fear to lead them to hate, we as a people need to stop letting our personal fears turn us against one another.

“When we move the politics of “Me” to the politics of “Us”, we will rediscover those life-transforming, counterintuitive truths: that a nation is strong when it cares for the weak, that it becomes rich when it cares for the poor, that it become invulnerable when it cares for the vulnerable. If we care for the future of democracy, we must recover the sense of shared morality that binds us to one another in a mutual compassion and care.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Terry Hayes

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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