Tag Archives: genocide prevention

Guilt? Obligation? Anger? An Alternative

9 Aug

Would you hide me?

I’m obsessed with this question.  Prompted by Nathan Englander’s story: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” .

Hiding refers (partly) to the physical hiding in the event of another Holocaust.  And really so much more.  The layered morality  in the action to hide another.

Are you trust-worthy?

Luckily, in this day and age,  I have the luxury to view ‘hiding’ as an emotional act.

Hiding as a metaphorical act focuses on words of  kindness and compassion.  These are the words you say to offer safety and escape from sadness, bullying, self-hate, insecurity, loneliness.

It’s as simple as sincerely saying ‘thank you’ and ‘I appreciate you’.  I may help others because it’s the right thing, not to be thanked.  Yet, it feels really good to be acknowledged.   In fact, when someone tells me they appreciate who I am, it makes me feel safe.  It makes me think they would ‘hide me’ when I feel low.

After all in one small way, holocausts, genocides and hate crimes begin with small acts of bullying, disregard, and unkindness.   And bullies often feel insecure themselves.  Bullies need to hear:  ‘You are good.  You have something to offer.”

Advertisement from NYC subway at Transit Museum

Advertisement from NYC subway at Transit Museum.

Unfortunately, people don’t use these three magic words often enough, do they?  How often do you feel unappreciated?

Hiding can be as simple as, “I know you’ve been having a rough time.  How are you?”

I remember a friend, ‘F’, sharing details of a mutual friend’s , ‘melt-down’.  It had to do with roommate issues and ‘F’ had sided with the roommate.  I can still feel my frustration, reminding ‘F’ to think about our friend’s feelings.   I wanted to hide  her and urged ‘F’ to do the same.

Emotional hiding demonstrates character and strength.   It’s ‘walking the talk’.   Likely all of us, if asked, would adamantly say we’d hide another.   But how do you really know:  you don’t.  Emotional hiding is a pretty good indicator though.  As I’ve written before,  I obsessively ask myself this question to become a better person, the person I know I can be.

Recently my calendar presented a dilemma.  Two invitations on the same day:  family wedding and out-of-town friend visit.

Where to go?  Who to please?  See, by nature I am filled with guilt – I like to do what pleases.

By nurture, I am equally filled with obligation – I am told I must do what pleases.  I am told I should feel guilt.

guilt + obligation = anger

Naturally, the anger is all mine – pleasing others doesn’t necessarily please me!

When it comes to obligation, what will it cost to pay my dues?  Must I go in debt and be buried in anger?

Needless to say, relationships are complicated.  Not black and white, but splashed with shades of grey and lots of red.   Yet, when deciding where I would go to be engulfed by comfort and love, I found myself asking:  ‘Who would hide me?’

Which event would I be most surrounded by love?  Where would I be listened to and supported?  

Sitting here safely, I realized:

  • First and foremost I have to feel I’m worth protecting, worth hiding.
  • It’s important to let others know when their words feel judgmental, unkind, hateful, and hurtful.  A simple:  ‘that’s not nice’ works well.

Oh, and terrible as it may sound, if you want me to attend your event:  treat me like I’m worth ‘hiding’ – and, I’ll strive to treat you the same.

 For the first 2 steps in my series in how to prevent genocide (and bullying):

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/prevent-genocide-and-bullying-12-ways-to-swallow-an-empathy-pill/

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/6-strategies-to-naked-identity-only-you-can-prevent-genocide-step-1/

https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/only-you-can-prevent-a-genocide-an-introduction-to-6-actions-you-can-take/

Mourning: Hate, Fear, Heat, Need

16 Jul

“White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this – which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never – the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.”

James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time”

As the country broils in disbelief and outrage of Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin killing, as Paula Dean is vilified for her racial ‘slur’, I don’t think it’s as black and white as it seems.  Not our fear, hatred, dislike for others.  Or as Baldwin points out – ourselves.

Today is Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av (month) and the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple(s) in Jerusalem.  A day of mourning for Jews, a day to mourn what was lost, to acknowledge the yearn for what will connect and complete our sense of home, safety, a nation.

Yet Jews who mourn and yearn as a people are engaged in discord (to put it mildly): between Orthodox (particularly Haredi) and the secular/non-religious Jews.  A rift over common beliefs shatters the thread of a shared religion.  Rather a shared religion with different beliefs on how to ‘believe’ in that religion.

Naively, I like to think we don’t all have to believe the same things in the same way.   Especially when it comes to religion (and for me how I practice being Jewish).  But human nature has disproved this fact over the entirety of our existence.

Excavated stones from the Western Wall in Israel from the Roman destruction of the Temple.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B'Av

Excavated stones from the Western Wall in Israel from the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B’Av

In Baldwin’s quote:  substitute white and Negro for different groups, different people, and it can apply to any and all people across the world.

the fire next time

The cause for this hate, this distrust, this fear isn’t about the differences in others:  it’s about US learning to accept and like OURSELVES.

As a species we are filled with prejudice.  To kill that prejudice we need to discover what keeps it alive:  fear and insecurity.  

We’re instructed to grab out own oxygen mask before helping even our children in a plane ’emergency’.  It’s always a good reminder to take care of ourselves first.  To care for and about ourselves.

After all, we can’t like or accept anyone else until we like and accept ourselves.

Genocide and bullying are mankind’s perfection of predation. We need to remember: only YOU and I can prevent hate crimes.

FYI:  Tisha B’Av (a few) events over Jewish history from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tisha_B’Av:  and coincidence?  There are no coincidences:

  • The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 8-9, 5252 AM).[6]
  • On August 2, 1941, (Av 9, 5701 AM) SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution”. Almost 50% of the Jews on the face of the earth were captured and killed at that time.
  • On the 9th of Av, 5702 (July 23, 1942), the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.