Tag Archives: james baldwin

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.
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