Originally posted here on Oct. 19, 2015.
I am starting to see very clearly that there are those people who have the moral and emotional intelligence to understand two sides of a conflict, two enemies at once, and there are those who need to demonize someone in every situation. There are those who can empathize with their own community and with another, and there are those who at every turn look to demonize one group and whitewash their own. These are two camps of humanity, one with an evolved mind, and one with a primitive mind. Educational levels and graduate degrees having nothing to do with these two camps.
I am horrified by the mob mentality, I am saddened by many people I have helped and defended, not from my own community, who the first chance they get, join virtual lynch mobs.
The fact is that it is easy to …
Please find the full article here on the Huffington Post.
Most people do suffer tragedy, and self-pity is often justified, but it is also very destructive, inducing great anger, depression, and destructive approaches to others. Personally speaking, I simply become a less decent person when all I can think about is my losses and the hurt that was caused me. It is exhausting, time consuming, and embittering.
People are unhappy due to selfishness, according to one of the greatest thinkers on the subject. That flew in the face of every instinct I had my entire life. It was serious people who were sad about the world, it was informed people who worried, cared, talked and ruminated ceaselessly on the worst tragedies, like the Holocaust. They were depressed, but they were the responsible ones on this planet, not the fools saying happy empty things all the time. But here Mill was …
Just a few days ago was the longest night of the year. Another way of looking at is that this was night in which the tide of darkness began to turn back in favor of light. Bunched around this time are so many ancient holidays of lights and candles, of which Hanukah and Christmas are but two. Ancient rabbinic tradition suggests that the purpose of the small light at night is to teach that it takes only the light of one individual candle to illuminate the darkness of an entire room—or the world.
Peering at small lights at night, meditating on them, also has another interesting impact. It makes the blinding light of the morning sun feel almost miraculous. Indeed, many of the pre-monotheistic nighttime celebrations of light at this time of year are actually celebrations of the birth of light, and particularly sunlight. There is an inescapable reality to …
He was racing in a Humvee with four other soldiers, having arrived there just days before, 19 years old. The day he got there his best friend was shot in the head, boom, gone in an instant. Now he was racing along this road when a missile directly hit the cab of the vehicle. One guy’s legs were gone and another was killed right away, and the missile flew right by his head, just missing him. He seemed uninjured, but he was, and now he is back in Boston.
It was a sunny August afternoon in Boston as I leaped into a cab. I had just finished attending a conference of great religious educators at Boston University, and I was feeling very good about my presentation. I thought it was a home run because I really connected with the message and the people.
The 50-something Irish cab driver, whose presence …
It was three days before Rosh Hashanah, and I was predictably anxious about my identity, my life, about my family’s Jewish future. As a good and fractious Jew, I was somewhat ambivalent about which synagogue I would go to: The one I sometimes go to? The one I would never step foot in? The one that I really should create on my own, maybe?
This Rosh Hashanah was different for two reasons. My 87-year old mother, who lives alone 400 miles away in Boston, had pneumonia. So we were on our way to Boston, but I had to honor a commitment to my dear friend Yahya Hendi, who is an imam. He wanted the whole family, the whole world, it seems, but especially Jews and Christians, for an iftar, a very sacred celebration as a part of Ramadan. He wanted us all to share in every aspect of the evening, …
Welcome to the “Islam’s new Kartinis” series here on MarcGopin.com! As explained in my last post, this column will focus on Muslim women from around the world who work to bring positive incremental change to their communities and beyond. This month, we’re featuring Valerie Khan Yusufzai, chairperson of the Acid Survivors Foundation of Pakistan.
Valerie Khan Yusufzai speaks publicly about acid violence
Raquel: Have you always been interested in human rights work?
Valerie: I grew up in a family where the ideas of freedom, thoughtfulness and fighting for what you believe is right were very much present. My great-grandparents resisted against the Germans in the First World War. My great-grandfather even received the Legion D’Honneur for excellent military conduct. This is the highest distinction for a French soldier. My grandfather, at age 19, joined the clandestine French forces to fight the Nazis during the Second …
“None but a noble man treats women in an honorable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.”
– The Prophet Muhammad (At-Tirmithy)
Last year, I was approached by MarcGopin.com to write a column focusing on positive incremental change.
While I am always in favor of an optimistic approach, I confess that it is sometimes hard to remain positive. This is especially difficult considering the many challenges women – and especially Muslim women – continue to face in establishing and preserving their rights.
For example, it is true that the tribal practice of honor killing – in which women are slain to restore the “honor” of their families and communities – is not exclusive to Islamic societies and even existed in pre-Islamic times. However, it is also true that the perpetrators of these crimes are often Muslim – and their victims, numbering in the thousands each year, are Muslim …
Below are two extraordinary stories. One is an excerpt from an inside look at how and why extremists still filter into Iraq from Syria. It is hardly the tale that neoconservatives gunning for war with Syria want to hear, but it is far closer to the harsh reality and complexity of the situation. The only answer seems to me to be a strengthening of Western-Middle Eastern relations, everyone’s acknowledgment of shared responsibility for Iraq’s situation, better communications, and more cooperation on state strengthening and the rule of law.
The second story is an astonishing tale of reunion between a Syrian soldier and an Israeli soldier who had been on the same battlefield. But where they reunite is shocking, and is s a testimony to our common humanity.
An excerpt from “Merchant of Death”:
It is common sense and supply and demand. When the decision was made that Saddam Hussein had
This is a fascinating story about a rabbi’s relationship with a very serious enemy, and, unlike the fear mongering that dominates the establishment organizations, this rabbi proceeds differently. He is part of a noble American tradition pioneered by black preachers. I am fascinated by friendships between enemies, the subject of my next book, and this is a great example to be studied.
Here’s an excerpt from Rebecca Dube’s article in The Jewish Daily Forward, titled “He Conquered the KKK — Now on to Flushing”:
When he was a cantor in Lincoln, Neb., [Rabbi Michael] Weisser confronted diehard Ku Klux Klan leader Larry Trapp, befriended him and eventually inspired the life-long racist to renounce hatred and speak out publicly against bigotry.
Three months before his death from diabetes-related kidney disease in September 1992, Trapp converted to Judaism under Weisser’s guidance, in the very synagogue that he’d once plotted to blow