Real Tolerance

 

I came across a book in my home today, it reminded me of the day I went to see the author speak and I purchased the book to support him and take a look at his craft.  (I’ve decided to leave the title and author out because I don’t mean any harm to him)  The inside page reads “Dedicated to Jewish families of all backgrounds.”

The author spoke of how the number of practicing Jews is decreasing each generation and how so many Jews don’t consider themselves Jewish due to non observance within their families.  When it came time for questions I raised my hand.  “My household is multicultural and I would like to hear your thoughts on running a home with two faiths.”  The author started by telling me that his advice was no disrespect to me (since I obviously married a non Jew) but that I should do everything in my power to keep my kids from marrying a non Jew, start talking to them about it when they’re young, etc.

I turned to look at my dear friend of many years, the Rabbi’s wife.  We wore big grins and wanted to chuckle at his answer because we know my situation, but in reality it was not funny.  It was a testament to the true view on multi-faith households by many.  How far have we really come from judging races, those of a different sexual orientation or of those of a different religion?

The next person to raise their hand said they did all that the author advised me to do but that their son was raising his kids with almost no religion and they wanted to know how they could make an impact on their Grandchildren’s faith.  Their faces were very distressed and the wife rung her hands as she spoke, pleading for help with this dilemma.  I sat and felt a mix of not belonging and inner strength, perhaps the true trademarks of a convert.

Many of us want the same things: to love and be loved, to feel closeness to God, to give charity and contribute in some way to humankind if even just by being kind, to live by the same basic moral values.

Why must people of different faiths frown on each other?  How far have humans come?  When will different be okay?

 

Forever Young

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I walked up to the entrance line at the X-games pushing a stroller and carrying a baby in a carrier on my chest.  My older kids were all doing different things and my husband was working.  The walk way was filled with mud, gravel and some old slushy snow.  There was an empty Jack Daniels bottle on the side of the walk way and the young people around me starting joking about it.  “Someone is having a good time!” and the like.  Then their conversation turned to the serious topic of the usefulness of the plastic Jack Daniels bottles.  One of the guys wore a red stretch fabric over his face.  No one made eye contact with me and when my toddler asked me questions and I answered him people around us resisted the urge to look at us.  We were the elephant in the room because these young people were there to underage drink and have a rowdy time, not to be around someone who reminded them of their parents or teachers.  Gross.  I’ve heard that being around young people keeps you young but on this day is was making me feel one hundred years old.  Still, no one could wipe the smile off of my face.  Even if I was out of place with my stroller and baby Bjorn, being at the X-games could not be less exciting.  The promotional displays, courageous athletes and that glorious half pipe…all set on the side of a beautiful ski lift mountain. I did eventually see a few people with small children; they were struggling with a tired or hungry kid, offering their kid a snack or carrying them on their shoulders.  I also saw my older kids’ friends and they were happy to see a familiar face in this sea of people so they gave me a big hello or smile.  I dropped a baby blanket in the mud on the walk way to the entrance, I did not stand in line for any free stuff or autographs.  But I did take in all of the sights and sounds, I watched the action and felt alive, and maybe I did feel a little young. -smilingbug

Over Stimulated?

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My daughter played a 90 second relaxation recording for me. It was really clever, telling you to relax and not worry about the things you are missing out on by not looking at your cell. She also joined her hundredth social media site (exaggerating but almost!) called Starmatic. I have to make a list of my social media memberships with user names and passwords because there are so many. I was at lunch with some lady friends (a very rare treat for me) and they were commenting on the fun they have on Facebook. I heard kids joking a while back that “facebook is for olds” and now I’m thinking it’s true. There are so many social media avenues, if you are primarily on Facebook (and Instagram, too) you might be underdeveloped in the internet world, “LoL”. A few nights ago we had a cell-free dinner and I think we’ll keep it that way. All of us had to put our cell phones face down, off of our persons and with no sound on. As soon as we put them down someone’s started to vibrate and my hubs had to take them far away from the table so that they weren’t a distraction. If you think about it, it’s nuts how accustomed we are to being continuously stimulated by something on our cell, something on the internet, something on twitter or facebook or in our email in box. I saw this article on Inc. about being more productive and one of the tips is to periodically disable text and emails, another is to completely disconnect for 12 hours per day. That sounds so wonderful, 12 hours with the ringer off, not looking at notifications, not allowing the curiosity of a news feed to take over. How about trying that for 12 hours today? -smilingbug

What Makes Happy People

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Every time I’m at that mall I think of the man that took his own life because his restaurant there and other businesses were failing.  He was a father of three and a well known guy in town.  It was a shocking story to read about, he took his life with his car’s exhaust while his family was out of town.  I went to work the following Monday and the program for his funeral was on my employer’s desk.  The back of it was facing up and it was filled with photos of him and his children, one group shot including his wife.  All I could think was how those kids would miss their Dad terribly for the rest of their lives and the pain they must be in.  My heart went out to his wife, she was barely featured in any photos and I wondered if that was a sign that she was really angry with him.  Then there he was in the photos, smiling but how much agony he must have been in to take his own life.  Some will say it’s an act of cowardness but it must be driven by pain.  I have heard that acting out or anger is actually a cry for love.  Judd Apatow posted a link to an article on twitter yesterday about happy people.  He wrote “This is a great article all should read.”  So I clicked on the link and the article is called 15 Things Happy People Do Differently. The list made a lot of sense (I only disagreed a bit with #10 but that’s just me) except I started questioning whether people could consciously live their lives by this list.  It seemed to me that living life by these 15 rules would be inherent in a person’s character and not something that a person could decide to do because they saw this article.  Maybe over many years of conscious effort, practice, occasional error and self correction, a person could behave more in the way this article describes.  But even then I wonder if a person could become less selfish, less critical or more trusting, for example.  There is nature and nurture, one we are born with and the other has been drilled into us by our upbringing, our experiences, our role models.  How much reconditioning and reprogramming would it take to make a person change those ingrained qualities or are some people more apt to intense change?  Meanwhile, after reading Apatow’s suggested article I see links to other articles at the end of the page.  I click on the first in that row and it’s called 12 Scientifically Proven Steps to Happiness.  According to this article one just needs to include twelve broad stroke actions in their life like gratitude and optimism.  To the left of that is a link to an article that advises on 15 things one should give up to be happy. So the list goes on and on.  All of the tips are quite good to reflect on but what about the restaurant owner I recalled at the mall today, could anything help a person in that place?  Everyone is working with the cards they were dealt in this life, trying their best even if their own best is not good at all.  Be compassionate, we’re all part of this human experience. -smilingbug

Love Thy Neighbor

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This is Lawrence DePrimo, a NYP officer who is 25 years old and bought an older homeless man a pair of warm boots with his own $100 on November 14th.   There are good people in the world.  What if each of those “good” people did one random kind thing per week, per month?  Remember the movie Pay it Forward.  Being kind can include giving your time, a listening ear, your place in line, giving aid to an elderly person, mentoring a youth, cleaning up your neighborhood.  You can start anytime, too.

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”
― Princess Diana

I saw a report about Mary Sauter who gives thousands of children gifts each holiday season.  She works year around on this project, every year.  The holiday season brings lots of these stories to light.  How about more of this in everyone’s lives?  Be compassionate. -smilingbug

Remember what Matters

Today I had a Pretty Woman moment. Not the “Big Mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now” moment but the first shopping experience Julia Roberts had when she is treated like dirt by a sales person because her appearance says she clearly won’t be buying anything in the store. So what about retail employees or store owners who favor customers who will shop and ignore or dismiss those who don’t appear to be big spenders? They are running a business or working on commission, makes sense right? But what about that image that was posted on a busy side walk about character and then shared in lots of social media. The full quote is

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you take that to heart then it would be a nice gesture for a store owner to spend time with everyone. Spending time on that person’s inquiry would be a sign of kindness, selflessness, character. What if everyone was nice to each other just because? Make it a kinder world. -smilingbug

Practice Tolerance

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It’s our first holiday season with a Christmas tree for my older kids.  We have ornaments that they made in school that I’ve kept in boxes and taken out to decorate the house during the season- Star of Davids, a menorah.  I have a few ornaments I bought when I couldn’t resist their cuteness- a small white stocking, a red row boat, the South Park characters.  Then there are our make shift ornaments like pine cones from outside and draidels hanging by a ribbon.  Our lights are all blue because I’ve always put up blue lights to celebrate Channukah and be in the holiday spirit.  Multi-faith can be tricky.  I wrote about it some time ago and maybe that post was a bit emotional  sappy but it is a sensitive topic if you take your faith to heart.  As a different person, I experience first hand how tolerant others are in society.  I believe tolerance is a word that is overused, under practiced.  Everyone wants no war, a compassionate government, a utopian environment where we share and care…yet how many are living those ideals in their day to day lives?

In our human life, tolerance is very important, it helps you overcome difficulties. Without it, tiny things irritate you and you overreact.

Be kind to all. -smilingbug