By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Today is July 4, 2014—Independence Day in the United States. We are supposed to be celebrating Freedom on this day, yet, are we free?
I ask this question in light of all of the activities that have happened in this past year and in the past 238 years. I think when John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence he wanted King George to be able to read his name without his spectacles as a way of showing how much he didn’t want to be anonymous. What was he signing up for? That all people are created equal? I know that women were not seen as equal back then, however, I do believe the intent was all people.
I have watched with great Awe and Anger the events in Israel this past week and past few weeks. We are appalled that three teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. What is so interesting is that we, here in America, are NOT appalled with the many murders of young people on our streets every single day! It seems that Israel, as a nation, is much more compassionate and caring (certainly when it comes to their citizens) compared to America. How has the murdering of our young people become so normalized?
Oh Yeah, it is the young people of color, of poverty, of … ; these are the ones we don’t talk about. Sensational murders we hear about ad nauseum. Yet, do we have better gun control laws? Do we have better services for mental health? Do we have better treatment of labor? Do we have better treatment of Employers by California’s EDD? Do we have a more just system in our Criminal Justice System? Do we have a more just system in our Civil Justice System? Do we have a more just system in our Health Care, Employment Law, etc.? NO!
Why? Because we have forgotten the words and intent of our Declaration of Independence. We have forgotten the value and importance of Collective Wisdom and Compromise. We have forgotten the path of Moral and Decent behaviors in our Congress, our Courts, our Newspapers, our Blogs, our Internet Postings, our Jobs, and in our treatment of others.
This is not just an American problem, it is an Israeli problem, it is a Middle East problem, it is a European problem, and it is a world problem. There is a solution, however.
The Torah and the Declaration of Independence both speak directly to the DIGNITY of EVERY HUMAN BEING. We are blessed to be able to take care of the Widow, the Poor, the Stranger and the Orphan. Our Statue of Liberty welcomes people. This is the intent and statements of our ancestors and founding fathers—when will we honor their legacy and restore the dignity to ourselves and others through actions which are contrary to our self-centered, self-seeking, and self-obsessed actions of today?
Join me on the Path of Redemption through these contrary actions.