May 23, 2024 /

Between Us – November 2018

Depending on when you are reading this, the Midterm Elections either are about to happen or already have occurred. As I sat down to write this article, I found myself reflecting on at least four years of growing hostility toward one another leading up to this election. I pray with all my heart that with the conclusion of this election our country will start to come back together and see each other as being parts of one whole nation rather than separate entities that are actively trying to pull this country apart. And while I pray that this may be so, after all the ugliness we have witnessed in the last year, I doubt that this will come to pass – at least, on its own.

I have been dumbstruck at how we treat those who have been victims of assault or violence. I have been dumbstruck at how we have grown progressively more comfortable with language and rhetoric that previous generations would have considered inexcusable. I have been dumbstruck at how little we feel towards those who are vulnerable in our society, and I have been dumbstruck at our inability to move towards reconciliation after disagreements.

Will our nation be able to move forward together or will we continue to pull ourselves apart? At times like this, I think back to Hillel’s words in Pirkei Avot: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

Part of our increased tribalism is because we are only internalizing parts of Hillel’s quote. Yes, we need to look after ourselves, but we also need to look out for others too. We need to realize that there are multiple ways of looking at the world and that views that don’t align with ours aren’t inherently wicked.

We also can’t wait for someone else to pull us together; we need to do it ourselves. That’s why I want to invite you to join us at our Interfaith Thanksgiving Service.  This service has always held tremendous power for me. Within the sanctuary are a diverse array of both religious and political beliefs, a diverse array of cultures and ethnicities, a diverse array of how we envision the world; all together under one sacred roof. If I were to imagine how the world ought to act, this is the image I would create. Join me, and with one voice and vision, we will show our larger community how our society ought to look. We will reject the tribalism that is poisoning our well and plot a new path forward, one of harmony and coexistence.

Philip N. Bazeley