There is a Police presence at my children’s school today in the wake of the shooting at a synagogue in San Diego. And there is a grotesque cartoon (which I refuse to reprint) in the New York Times from this past weekend which exposes deep and blatant anti-semitism in one of the country’s oldest and most trusted newspapers. It’s a troubling time! Troubling not just for Jews, but for all of us who dwell somewhere near the center and watch the corrosion and radicalization at the two sides of our political and social spectrum.
There has always been danger in extremes, but today it seems like the extremes are swallowing ever more of the playing field, like the endzones are growing and there is decreasing ground between them. It feels to me like the only solution is for those of us who reject extremism on either side to stand up together and push back.
Regardless of our particular leanings, we need a united center that values diversity and not only tolerates, but embraces difference of opinion. We need to fight not with those who disagree with us, but together with them against those who won’t tolerate disagreement. It is those who vehemently insist on the wholesale acceptance of their particular ideology who must be addressed today. When we accuse others of evil because they don’t share our perspective, we should be made aware that we are stoking the fires rather than squelching them.
The Us or Them is not we who lean one way and they who lean the other, but rather we who support democracy and diversity and they who wish to institute and compel their own “enlightened” ideology. They may truly believe that they are doing what is best for all (or at least most), but in their self-righteous and impassioned pursuit of their perspective, they are contributing to a growing polarization that is ultimately good for none other than those who thrive on conflict.
It is wonderful to contribute to funds organized to assist the victims of the violent events that are becoming all too prevalent these day. But if we truly care about the victims and truly want to do something proactive to assure that the list of victims does not continue to grow, then we should also seek opportunities to unite with others who, in spite of their differences, share our desire for a free, tolerant, and democratic society.
Some suggested opportunities of this nature include:
Bridge Alliance Education Fund
National Institute For Civil Discourse
National Conversation Project
Living Room Conversations
Listen First Project
Serve 2 Unite
The Village Square
Make America Dinner Again
Info and Links to these organizations can be found on our Community page.