In regards to “Add the Unite the Right rally to the list” (Nov. 5) and “Here’s the real issue” (Nov. 12): I recently read an apologia from the left for the riots around the country protesting police brutality that have left dozens if not hundreds of businesses destroyed, innocent people injured or killed and estimates of property damage that run past a billion dollars. The message was simple: Mostly the protests were peaceful but “some” were “hijacked” by thugs. I am perfectly willing to say that many, perhaps most, of those partaking in the protests were justifiably noisy but otherwise peaceful. But that hardly explains the calls by some leaders of Black Lives Matter and other protest organizers for violence and the support for these organizations by our current administration. However, that is not my major point.
If this argument about hijacking peaceful protests has any validity at all, why can’t it be applied to Charlottesville, where there had been weeks of protests against the removal of Confederate monuments, protests I would have supported. (And as a student at Brown University, I proudly marched on the State House in Providence, R.I., with the Congress of Racial Equality and in the Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington.) This was precisely the explanation President Donald Trump gave for why he said there were good people on both sides at Charlottesville.
With regard to “voter suppression” laws, I call them “vote protection laws.” How do any of these proposed laws unfairly affect minority voters? Don’t early voting laws apply to everyone? Why shouldn’t ballots have a cut-off date that ensures they can all be counted by Election Day so that we don’t make democracy into a laughing stock for much of the world?
“Charlottesville,” “voter suppression laws” and the biggest one of all — “Trump” — are nothing more than dog whistles intended to elicit a knee-jerk reaction of horror and prevent rational thinking.
Podcasts are powerful
Podcasts have become a popular mode of communication effectuating meaningful discussions via a direct interchange of ideas (“New podcast gives the Torah’s view on healthy living,” Nov. 26). From mere discussions, there is the possibility to extrapolate powerful messages. I’ve seen two episodes recently, each episode from two different podcasts that emphasized a crucial idea that affects Jewish living.
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, in his Behind the Bima podcast, spoke to Dovid Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein has a good flavor for all the Jewish worlds and expressed an idea that crosses all boundaries. When asked about how one should deal with comparing themselves to others, he said that there’s only one comparison that can be made: that is a comparison between yourself now and the you of a year ago and five years ago, etc. Since every man is born an individual, it’s impossible to compare or measure yourself against others. He emphasized that the mission of life and how to serve G-d is based on the tools you were specifically endowed with. In other words, play your own music.
Rabbi Mark Wildes, on his podcast, The Wildescast, recently interviewed Elon Gold, who scored a recent victory by getting a part in Larry David’s “Curb your Enthusiasm.” (In an amusing interaction with Larry David, Gold said he told David he is the Gadol Hador of comedy, and David liked it.) He emphasized a similar theme: that one must utilize his gifts to serve G-d. Being judgmental has no place, for we are all unique individuals with different gifts.
The message from both of these two podcasts is a theme that is emerging more and more. A person must serve G-d with those talents that only he was bestowed with. No one else has them and therefore it’s the mandate of life to tap into them, cultivate them and bring them into the world.