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Pride, Strength, and Kindness When Confronted With Violence and Hatred

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Theme: Responding to Tragedy

How should we react to violence and hatred like that of the recent massacre in Pittsburgh? Our outrage is very profound, but productive outrage is not expressed through retaliation or through fear, but through positive action, and ultimately recognizing that there is a calling that we have to live up to.

Console and Love

First and foremost we need to console and comfort the families and community of the murdered martyrs. We must offer them moral support. But even more than that: We are all one family. One organism. Their loss is our loss. Their pain is our pain. Their grief is our grief. Though we have mo answers — and no answer would ever be adequate — we cry together. And in some mysterious way, empathy and crying together empowers those suffering and infuses strength in the entire organism.

Wake-up Call

We must see this as a unique opportunity to wake up: Perhaps this is our time to affect real change. It is time to start thinking differently, speaking differently, acting differently. Especially in America, a loud call has to ring out that we — all people, not just Jews — will not tolerate such atrocities. A brutal murderer like the Pittsburgh shooter has to be treated and prosecuted in the strongest way possible — not just for him, but to send a message to anyone out there who may harbor hateful feelings. We simply cannot tolerate a person turning a gun in the name of killing Jews (or any other ethnic group). But there is also a larger lesson, as the mystics teach that we have to learn from everything.

The Spiritual Lesson

Adding in acts of goodness and kindness has always been the Jewish response to hatred — never an “in kind” type of response. Obviously we protect and defend ourselves, but we increase in acts of goodness and kindness to demonstrate that light is stronger than darkness, and good is more powerful and vanquishes evil. Every time there’s a community that faces challenges like the one in Pittsburgh, we have to come together in study, prayer, and purpose — ultimately being a living example of what it means to live a meaningful life. We must demonstrate what it means to love our fellow humans. It is our work to stop anyone from falling back into spiritual slumber — especially ourselves.

Strengthen the Foundations

The only thing that stands us in good stead in uncertain, insecure times like this are our spiritual foundations. We are in need of absolute faith and belief in our inner and higher value system. We are in need of passion — a passion for our cause and calling, a passion no less than the passion of those waging war on us. You can have all the tools and weapons in the world, you can devise the best schemes, but if you don’t believe in your cause, and you don’t believe that you can and will prevail, you will not be able to achieve victory. Victory is for those that believe in it the most. Persistence will always win over complacency. A committed individual is more powerful than a hundred uncommitted people.

Exercise: It all begins with the absolute conviction and commitment to your cause. Define your cause. Do something to advance it. Add one good deed.  Journal about it in your MyMLC journal.


View all content on Responding to Tragedy: Massacre In Pittsburgh: How to Respond in a Healthy Way | Responding to the Pittsburgh Massacre

Go deeper into this subject: Hate Crimes and Anti-Semitism | Racism: Can We Get Beyond It? | Balance |

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