Seeking the Goodness
It is the day after another incidence of workplace violence has been the featured story on the news outlets. This time, the story was all too real for those reporting it. This time, the story was not just a reporter and a videographer telling about an event. This time they were the event. Airing on an early morning local affiliate news program, while interviewing the representative from a local chamber of commerce, while discussing the hospitality of the area, a young female news reporter and her equally young cameraman, along with the female being interviewed, became the story, victims of a disgruntled coworker who felt his ethnicity had hindered his career.
In a totally unrelated story but also the victim of a verbal violent attack, another news reporter, this time a male veteran of television, was also attacked. His right to assembly as well as the freedom of the press were trampled on and ridiculed by a candidate ostensibly running for the highest office within the government of the United States. This time the attack was simply a matter of the candidate’s inflated sense of entitlement due to his ethnicity and his berating the reporter because of his ethnicity.
With such incidents in the news making headlines, it is hard to find the goodness that a supposedly religious nation, a nation founded in part as its early settlers sought religious freedom, should espouse and encourage. The ancient names of the deity supposedly lauded seem to mock the reality of the modern world. Jehovah Elohim Tsaba, “Lord God of Hosts”, seems to be an absentee deity for many.
Within the month of August we have been discussing the many and varied names of the monotheistic deity of the Abrahamic faiths. While theologians can argue which came first of the three main Abrahamic religions, it cannot be denied their connection or their shared mythologies, their shared stories of belief in one god as opposed to the polytheisms of their ancestors. BY the time August ends, we will have discussed over eight named for this one deity and yes, I did have a schedule of sorts for doing so.
Today, though, the names for this post seem almost to mock me. It is most apparent that for many living in the present, the emphasis has shifted. Instead of believing in Jehovah Tsidkenu, “the Lord our righteousness”, many believe simply in Elohe Tsadeki, “God of my righteousness”. Most theologians point to the first and last words of these names – god and righteousness. Today, though, living the faith has put emphasis on the pronouns. Many no longer care about the “our”; their only interest is in the “my”.
I have a policy that I do not write when overly emotional. I do not write when angry nor when I have been deeply hurt. The purpose of these posts is not to convert nor inflame but to begin a constructive conversation. I enjoy hearing from others when they are respectful in their disagreement. I believe such conversations help us to think and strengthen our beliefs.
Somethings, however, are non-negotiable. The right for each person to fully live out their potential should also be non-negotiable. There is no scientific basis for believing one’s gender, ethnicity, not the ability to wield a weapon that fires bullets or other ammunition entitles you to anything above what others living on this planet deserve – the right to live, to flourish, to be a part of the conversation of life.
Perhaps that is why there is a name for this one deity known as Jehovah Elohim Yeshua, the “Lord God of my salvation”. Truly, salvation is a necessary part of living. For some their deliverance is obvious as is their need. A woman whose husband leaves scars and bruises is much more obvious than the husband who exercises dominion over his wife, insisting she forego her own potential in order for him to achieve his or inhibits her social contacts. Though often hidden, the psychological abuse can be just as deadly as the physical abuse.
The supervisor who has strong abilities but lacks the interpersonal counseling needed when managing employees may unknowingly create a situation that results in someone resorting to violence to be heard. The voice of a gun is loud. There is no denying that. All too often people disdain psychology, calling it a fake science because the quantitative evidence of human thought patterns cannot be displayed like a physical object can.
This does not exclude the accountability of any one person. Please do not misunderstand me. We are all accountable for our actions, regardless of what has preceded them. We all have choices to make when we stand up and go forward into the day. We can all seek the goodness of living and create the best in our own individual situations or we can elect to remain victims.
The victim mentality is not an easy one to throw off and it requires great courage. It takes even greater courage to admit when we have fallen short and it really is easy to lay the blame on someone else. The politician mentioned earlier has gotten great press coverage by name calling and deflecting the spotlight off his own lack of experience and personal success. He has not assumed any accountability for his need to insult. A recent study reported that those who understand and use sarcasm might be highly creative. There is a difference, nonetheless, in being creative and avoiding issues.
I believe that each of us contributes to this world in our own way. Having lost those I have loved to death, I know the pain the permanent physical separation of such a loss. I choose to believe that these people, rather than having had their whole life yet to live, perhaps already lived a life of value. Rather than emphasizing what will never be, I think we should emphasize what has been and their impact on our lives. I hope at some point in time the shooter of the people involved in the news story that were shot while conducting an interview on air felt the love that people are not discussing. I hope they realized their incredible value to the society in which they lived. I hope the reported to whom the insults were levied and attempts made to dismiss by the politician felt the importance of his job in freely reporting an unbiased news story for his constituents and network’s audience.
People feel cornered at times and that is when their true colors, their true faith becomes evident. Certainly the politician feels entitled and perhaps is his own god, thinking he is the most important thing. Regretfully he seems to place value in one’s ethnicity as long as it is the same as his. His belief system is based upon a very small view of the world and any belief system must also have a narrow vision. The gunman of the other story also made his insecurities evident by his actions and a multi-paged written statement of his feelings. He had lost hope and faith.
The fact of the living on this planet is that, sometimes bad things occur. At some point, someone is going to step on your toes, hurt your feelings, try to override your own rights so that they can seem to rise above you and perhaps accomplish more than you. Life is not always sweet nor is everything attempted going to be successful. What we can do is control our actions and reactions. We can seek the goodness in ourselves and others. El Simchath Gili, “God my exceeding joy”, is still open for business. All we need to do is seek the goodness, putting others ahead of our own egos and living a life that harms no others.