Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
What a week! There is the change of power in Egypt, Independence Day here and in Today's New York Times there is an article about Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. I have some idea of how convoluted my brain must seem to put these three things together, yet I am.
The change in Egypt is probably a Both/And. Both the people of Egypt are disgruntled, disturbed and afraid of what they see as the dictatorial power grab by the Islamic Brotherhood, AND the military and former associates of Hosni Mubarak wanted control. Is there Redemption for the average Egyptian? Unfortunately, only time will tell. Yet, I believe that we, as a country and as individuals need to help/ensure/ do what we can to help Redeem the people and give them an informed choice, rather than letting factions dominate. I ask everyone to demand of Congress and the President to send Nobel Peace Prize winners to negotiate and bring everyone to the table. We have the power of billions of dollars in aid to make this happen. This is how we can redeem our inactions of past years, I believe.
Independence Day is not a one-time event nor should it be celebrated only once a year. Independence Day is every day that we redeem ourselves and others from the tyranny of slavery to addictive behaviors, i.e. doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. Our Independence Day stands as an example of what a few people of faith can accomplish through the power of working together for a common mission. Are we still these same people of faith? I hear a lot about faith from others, as a way of dividing rather than using faith to unite. I have had conversations with Father Greg Boyle and Reverend Andy Bales about ways that we all can, and do, work together to help the poor, the voiceless, the stranger and the powerless rise up and live lives of meaning and purpose. This is not a yearly occurrence; this is a daily challenge that we all have to help meet. How are you helping to meet this challenge?
So what does Tony Hsieh have to do with this? He is trying to revitalize downtown Las Vegas with an entrepreneurial spirit that brings with it a place for all to meet, greet and work together to redeem this area. He wants it hip, innovative, a place where "chance encounters on the street or at a club—urban collisions—spark innovation.” Whether it will or won’t work, like the change in Egypt, only time will tell. What I know is that without his spirit, nothing will change.
I am calling on all of us to be aware of these "chance encounters" like the one that sparked the "Arab Spring,”—Theodore Herzl, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, et.al. Lets then "spark innovation” and Redemption!
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July 3, 2013 | 1:25 pm
Posted by Beit T'shuvah
By Matt Shapiro
Yesterday, I had to write a tremendously difficult email to Josh, editor of this blog, and tell him I made a mistake. Not just any mistake, mind you, but a mistake born out of procrastination, a long-standing foe of mine. You see, my blog posts are supposed to go up on Mondays. The problem with that is Mondays are directly preceded by the weekend. Sarah and I both work full time, so those are the two days in the week when we spend time together as a family with our son. We keep Shabbat, so no blog writing happens between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. Sunday's out because we're running errands or doing family activities together. Saturday night isn't an option because, honestly, who would work on a Saturday night? Sunday night is a no go, because that's when I'm getting ready for the week; I could write while my son Jonah is napping on Sunday, but if I do that, when's my Sunday nap going to happen?
This past Wednesday night, Dr. Garrett O'Conner gave a lecture about procrastination at Beit T'Shuvah. Even though I already considered myself to be an expert on the topic, he shared a number of insights that stuck with me. He emphasized how procrastinating is a destructive pattern of behavior that's very difficult to break out of, even comparable to an addiction. Like any pattern, it takes concerted effort over time and direct attention in order to be decreased or eliminated; it's not just something that you "stop." The biggest take-away for me was how Dr. O'Conner painted it as a conflict between impulse and responsibility. For example, I know I have to put together a blog entry every week, but actually setting aside the time to put it together takes foresight and discipline, when any number of impulses will arise between that plan and the action. It seems much easier, at least in the short term, to enjoy my weekend and pray I can find a few spare moments on Monday (or even Tuesday) to pull it together. I'm sure it's also no accident that this procrastination was particularly egregious after last week, when I wrote a post I felt particularly good about. If it's true, as Dr. O'Conner posits, that procrastination is born out of fear of negative judgment of my competence, the gremlins telling me my post won't be as good as last week's would be particularly loud, most conveniently silenced by watching another episode of Arrested Development after Shabbat is over.
And so, per doctor's orders, I will not succumb to malignant shame, the experience of shame growing when I hide and feel badly about something I feel I've done wrong, but instead share my motivational shame, seeing what doesn't feel good and using it as a launching pad. I recognize the negative way I feel when I procrastinate, and see that it impacts others, that it's not just about me (sorry, Josh!). I also recognize the real challenges prohodiating (being in favor of today, per DOC, the opposite of procrastination) presents. While writing this blog, I've continued to procrastinate: responding to other emails, reading up on the coming fantasy football season, and even washing dishes. Recognizing the procrastination in and of itself doesn't solve the problem, especially since I know how easily I can come up with "good reasons" (see: first paragraph) to do so. So, here I am, an out of the closet procrastinator. The plan for next week is to set aside at least half an hour Saturday night and Sunday night to avoid scrambling so much on Monday, saving both me and Josh some serious angst on Monday. It might not sound like much, but it's a concrete plan and it's a commitment, and that's a start. As long as nothing else comes up.