It’s Not (Always) Easy

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Sometimes, we see people–especially on social media these days–and they look “all that!”–so happy, so loved, so rich, so with everything–so it seems (superficially). 


But there is definitely another reality out there, and that is that everyone has problems:


– Family

– Health

– Finances

– Work

– School

– Conflict

– Spiritual


Like Helen Keller said: 

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”


I remember as a child, if I felt sad about something, my dad at times would remind me about the children in the hospital, and to think about how we can help others less fortunate–and he was right!


What I see in life is a lot of people trying, but also so many challenges, failures, and suffering along the way…unfortunately, it’s part of the learning and growth equation, and in why we’re here. 


In college, I always remember one (English) professor who taught me from Henry David Thoreau:

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”


Sometimes, in our solitude or when we speak quietly from our heart with our closest loved ones, we feel and express some of those deep feelings of hurt, pain, and suffering from our lives.  


Those experiences, memories, and feelings are not all that there is of us, but it is certainly a part of all of us–although maybe only the brave will admit theirs.


It’s not shameful to feel, to cry, and to be human. 


It’s certainly not what Facebook and Twitter are all about. 


But it’s a genuine and critical part of us which recognizes as my dad also taught me that–life is not easy–and that we have to fight every day to do our best and to help others to do theirs. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Getting “Unf*cked”

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So on July 4th, I wrote and did a short video about how messed (f*cked) up things are in the world today (of course, technology-aside), and I advocated for people being a good influence and for constructive change. 

On the positive side, I saw this neat bumper sticker to “Unf*ck The World,” and I checked out their website utwnow.org

It was impressive to see people advocating for, banding together, and engaging to do good things to help others such as assist the homelessness by giving them haircuts, doing laundry, providing “mobile hygiene,” and helping with a thrift shop and job opportunities.  

In contrast again, it was interesting in the Wall Street Journal today, there was an editorial on how Brexit (Britian leaving the EU) has nothing on Amexit (America’s disengagement from global affairs). 

Around the world, there is cause for not only pause, but great concern.

– From allowing Syria to cross the red line in using chemical weapons (on civilians!) to the recommendation to not charge the former First Lady, we are in moral and leadership retreat.

– Russia takes over Crimea and agitates in Eastern Ukraine and the Baltics, while China continues its island buildup in the strategic South China Sea.  

– ISIS continues to hold ground across the Middle East and Northern Africa and attacks targets literally everywhere in the world and routinely takes, enslaves, and sells women to the highest bidder on the Internet.

– North Korea and Iran test ballistic missiles, and nukes are a forgone conclusion for them. 

– South America and Europe are in economic and political turmoil with varying degrees of recessions, runaway inflation, shortages, impeachment proceedings, voter recalls, and fractioning. 

– The U.S. is struggling to maintain its leadership role as we fluctuate between recognizing the dire need and pulling back all around. 

In the election cycle, I think just about every single person I have heard from now says in near hopelessness something like, “If only there was another candidate that I could vote for.”

What we can do locally to help–and certainly there is a lot more to do there with poverty and homelessness–perhaps people can do nationally and globally in demanding more–not material things, but rather a real caring about others and not just ourselves, a genuine discourse on policy and not just punch lines for the next election or media soundbite, a solutions-oriented mindset rather than a gaming the system one, and a big vision to settle the stars, cure vicious diseases, pull everyone out of poverty, and resolve endless cycles of global conflicts.

Do you hear much of anything on this these days and is anyone taking the high ground or is it just who is more crooked and untrustworthy–this cannot be the answer. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Not About The Regrets

Drowning

So a teacher recently gave her students a scenario with the following moral dilemma:


An important and talented surgeon who has saved many lives in the past and will surely save many more in the future runs across an old man who has slipped and fallen under the cracking ice into a lake after trying unsuccessfully to save his puppy from drowning.  


The old man is trapped and will freeze to death in short order.


Should the surgeon walk across the breaking ice and risk his own life to try and save the old man?


The vast majority of students’ responded…that the surgeon should try and save the old man.


When asked why they thought that, most said because otherwise he would feel guilty afterwards. 


Thinking about that it seems like a funny reason to do something dangerous, heroic, and maybe utterly stupid…so as not to feel guilty. 


I guess that I would’ve thought people who would advocate for trying to save the old man would say something like


– Every life is valuable!

– Saving one person is like saving the world.

– Helping people even at our own risk or peril is what we do for our fellow human beings.

– We would want others to help us if we were in trouble, so we should do that for them. 


While we can’t judge someone else for how they react in situations of genuine moral conflict, we can teach the younger generation that doing something good for others is about more than just not feeling bad or guilty afterwards (for being lazy, selfish, or making the wrong call in the situation).


Making moral judgements is about choosing in every situation to try your best to do what’s right, help people, be a good influence, take responsibility, and generally act selflessly, but not recklessly. 


Regret stinks (and can be truly painful), but missing opportunities to live a good, meaningful life is much worse. 😉


(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)

Warning 613

613

As per my prior posts in November and December, we are continuing to see the mystical 613 (representing the number of commandments in the Torah). 


This morning, on the Washington, D.C. Metro, see the time showing (above upper right). 


The whole family is seeing this, as I got a note from my daughter just a few minutes ago looking at online classes at Lynda.com and one of the classes had 613 views. 


Even to me (normally a critical thinker and healthy skeptic), it seems beyond regular explanations for the frequency and locations that we are seeing these signs. 


Also, last night I had a scary dream about what seemed like the end of times–it was almost like The Walking Dead, with people running to the countryside amidst chaos and destruction all around them. 


As tensions heat up between major Sunni and Shiite rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and “Axis of Evil” Iran unveils a 2nd underground depot with missiles capable of carrying nukes, and ISIS continues their jihadi rampage leaving 80% of Ramadi in Iraq destroyed at a cost of $10 billion, a new Jihadi John replacement is executing British hostages in Syria, and there are escalating superpower tussles with Russia and China–it is not hard to see just some of the potential dangers in our times in terms of escalating conflict, terrorism, and war. 


What is the future for us all, I do not know for certain, but all I can tell you is there appears to be warnings all about, and the question is will we heed them or not and then what is the outcome–it should be with mercy and for blessings. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Monster Under The Bed

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For those familiar with Yiddish…



A shiksa is a non-Jewish girl and is sometimes used to refer to Jewish women that don’t follow the commandments. 



A shegetz is a similar term used for a male. 



Is it a bad word? 



Well, let’s just say it’s not a term of endearment. 🙂



I guess it’s funny that everyone has terms for those who are not just like them.



Of course we all don’t have to be and aren’t the same, cut from the same mold.



But we all have to have respect for each other and get along. 



I think the worst part of people being different is not even the overt jokes or off-handed remarks which can certainly be hurtful, but much more the backdoor insinuations and aggressive behaviors. 



Lately, to be frank, it seems that ethnic and religious war is brewing big time in the world–anyone else notice?



Not regional, focused on oil and resources, long held dictatorships, human rights, or even “the Palestinian issue.”



But rather what no one wants to talk about or confront, a battle of civilizations.



It is so scary, because this is there are big and powerful actors at play whether Russia or China playing for the world’s leadership role (one overtly and the other covertly), Iran and North Korea freely wielding nukes and threateningly strutting “their stuff,” and ISIS and Al Qaeda looking for the next budding caliphate and  imposition of Sharia law as far and as wide as they can take it.



East meets West, democracy vs. dictatorship, religion against religion, this thing is building up steam, pressure is rising, and the question is whether and how big this is about to blow.



Shhh, if we don’t say the words or we pretend to “make nice” and give out jobs, dole out handouts, and use our drones, oh so discretely, maybe no one will notice. 



Are we being phobic about communism, radical Islam, budding economic and military might, and other differences, or are we pointing out what we are all perceiving, but greatly fear to face. 



When I saw recently that some wonderful Muslim people were surrounding synagogues in Europe, not to attack it, but rather to encircle it to defend it, I was not only in complete awe, but also realized how many good and righteous people there are out there.



These people are actually doing something about the injustices and power grabs they are witnessing, and not trying to obfuscate or opiate the masses. 



It’s not just about being tolerant of others and stripping hatred from our hearts and lives, but about being truthful when others may choose not to be. 😉



(Source Photo: Facebook)

Can You Love A Robot

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Pew Research reports that by 2025, “Robotic sex partners will be commonplace.”



While I certainly understand loving (new helpful) technology, actually making love to a machine is taking things a little too far.



Even with great advances in artificial intelligence (AI), a robot can be nothing more than an artificial partner…a humanoid is not a human!



Despite portrayals in the movie Her (2013) of a nerdy writer who falls in love with his life-like operating system, the reality of human and machine love is more a desperate call for companionship and understanding than a real connection of equals–physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. 



While a computer may be programmed to say the things you want to hear, to laugh at your jokes, and even to succumb to your advances, love cannot be programmed or even artificially learned. 



The complex dynamics between two real people locked-in the emotional roller coaster of life with its ups and downs, pulling together and pushing apart, of shared experiences, challenges, and conflicts, can only be met head on with a best friend, soulmate, diametric opposite, and at the same time congruent equal. 



Only another human being can love you and be your love.



A machine, however beautiful designed, charming, and learning of you, can be just a poor surrogate for the sad person screaming out for connection in a large lonely world. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Hatred To Peace

Someone sent me this video by Dennis Prager on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I wanted to share it.

An easy conflict to explain, a difficult one to solve: “One side wants the other dead!”



How do you get a people not to hate another?



“There are 22 Arab states stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, but only 1 Jewish state the size of New Jersey…”



“Why can’t the one Jewish state be allowed to exist?”



After generations of hatred and hostility–taught and practiced–truly a miracle is needed where we can live and let live. 



May G-d bring peace and security in our time, and may “nation not lift up sword against nation, and neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)