By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
What a week! There is the Ukraine, the Donald Sterling Fiasco, etc. We are living in a time that is rife with Moral Issues and we seem to be making Free-Will IMMORAL choices rather than Free-Will MORAL choices. What is happening? I don’t claim to have THE ANSWER. I do, however, have some thoughts (imagine that).
Donald Sterling and Vladimir Putin represent the old and new guard. They are the archetype that the Prophets of Israel rallied against. They represent the idea that Power/Money makes you right. The interesting question to me is: Why is everyone surprised? Neither of these men, nor this type of person, has changed over the years. I guess we believe the smoke and mirrors we want to see, rather than the truth of actions that others put out. As Rabbi Heschel says, our greatest need is the need to be deceived!
This type of “belief” happens all the time. We see someone who does good and can’t believe that they are not doing it for some material gain. We see someone who consistently does bad actions and they “clean” themselves up so we believe the sanitized version. Why?
This is the heart of the question of our lives, I believe. When I ask myself and others God’s question, “What is life getting out of you?” I want to do everything and anything to “look good” no matter what my actions say. We live in a society (not just now but for millennia) that overlooks the real for the fake, believes the story rather than the facts, can be talked out of what we see and hear through “spin.”
We experience this all the time in our political, business and, even personal lives. In fact, the idea that we differentiate our lives into different arenas is the breeding ground for our self-deception. When will we stop engaging in self-deception? I don’t know; I only know that it is killing the spirit of our young, the will of our new generation of young adults and the lives of ourselves. I am a smoker and I have deceived myself for years that it won’t cause me harm. One of my friends who is a great doctor, said to me yesterday, “Mark, grow up and stop kidding yourself, you need to cut down and quit smoking, use an e-cig if you want.” So, today, I am beginning the process of quitting. I am not sure how I will do this; I only know that I cannot kid/deceive myself any longer.
When is the rest of the world going to stop deceiving itself about the Putin’s of the world? When are we going to be more involved in Living Morally than in living to have more money, power, etc? When are we going to stand up and say no to racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, gender-bashing, economic slavery, etc. rather than giving awards to racists by the NAACP or supporting business’ run by known anti-Semites in the Jewish Community?
When are we going to live the Morality we preach? Are we willing to pay the “price” of standing up for our Principles? If not NOW, WHEN?