Jewish Journal

Our freedom from ourselves

by Noga Gur-Arieh

April 9, 2014 | 12:58 pm

Passover is a time of tacky text messages and Facebook statuses. Just like every other holiday, I find myself being carried away through a swirl of wishes and witty sentences which combine holiday songs' lyrics. This year, though, a status written by a good friend of mine caught my attention.  "May this holiday of freedom bring us freedom from ourselves: from our prejudice and judgment, from our arrogance. May people think before opening their mouths and listen to others." My first reaction, same as everyone else, I assume, was: "well, those judgmental, narrow minded people poison our world…", but it didn't take me long to realize I am also one of them. In our world, it is impossible to not be one of them.

We all make assumptions based on partial knowledge. It happens every day when we read the paper and use the information from there to make up our minds on various subjects. It is now well known that almost every media outlet is sponsored or owned by big corporations with certain interests. The media is neither objective nor neutral, and if you will hold two different papers in the same day, you may read totally different things. The media frames people and events in a certain way, which make us see things through their perspective. What we read about is usually being filtered for us to perceive things in a certain way. I, for instance, as an Israeli, will attempt to show the good side of Israel. An anti-Israeli blog will write on the same events, but from the opposite perspective. With that, this framing is completely natural, and makes pretty good sense. After all, we all have our interests. It is a part of who we are as human beings. So even though the media plays a major part in this game of narrow minds, human characteristics have their share as well.

Our minds are built to classify things as "good" or "bad", while it is very hard for us to perceive that there is also a large scale of grey in between. Just last month in Florida, a man shot a young, dark skinned man, who was wearing a hood, just because "he looked suspicious". Of course with time the human mind developed, but the dark shadow of prejudice from before still flows above us. A great example for such perception is the movie industry: at first, there was the good guy and the bad guy. With time, double standards began to appear, and the villain was discovered as a complex person with childhood trauma. But still, at the end of the day, the villain almost never wins the girl or the country house with the fence. So in 2012, I see myself as a developed, modern person, who never sees the world in dichotomy, and never judges by first impression, but I am also fully aware of this sentence being a dichotomy judgment of myself.

I guess no matter what will happen, how much humanity would develop, we will still believe we are always right, and that everybody else is wrong. We will always make assumptions based on first impressions, and will probably still believe everything we read in the papers. But after reading my friend’s status, I got to thinking that maybe not everything's lost. Maybe if we all paste this Facebook status on the wall of our minds, we can really grow…

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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