The DIVIDED States of America

Our nation is increasingly polarized with little to no tolerance of others wants, thinking, or actions. 


– First under Obama.


– Then with the election between Hillary and Trump.


– And now over Judge Kavanaugh.


The result has been some of the worst behaviors seen since the Civil War–with not only disrespect, restrictions on freedom of expression, but even threats and actual violence!


This nation is no longer the UNITED States, but much more like the DIVIDED States. 


And that just plays into our enemies hands and could lead us to eventually lose our very democracy to totalitarianism, dictatorship, and tyranny.  


So now may be a good time to review for yourself how many biases are driving your thought processes and behaviors and creating dangerous fundamentalists and extremists all around us instead of thoughtful dialogue, negotiation, and compromise. 


Here are 20 biases that may be affecting you more than you realize:


– Do you overestimate the importance of the information you have or feel good about (Anchoring,  Availability, and Choice-Supportive Biases)?


– Do you seek out and perceive information that simply validates your preconceptions (Information,

Confirmation, and Selective Perception Bias)? 


– Do you overemphasize information that is more recent or recognizable (Recency and Salience Biases)?


– Are you ignoring information that doesn’t “fit your script” (Ostrich Effect/Omission and Conservatism Bias)?


– Are you tied up in the groupthink of your peers (Bandwagon Effect)?


– Do you see patterns in random events or conspiracies that don’t exist (Clustering Illusion)?


– Are you overconfident in your thought process and conclusions (Overconfidence Bias)?


– Do you tend to overvalue the usefulness or success of something, but not recognize its limitations or failures (Pro-Innovation and Survivorship Bias)?


– Do you fail to take risks because you prefer certainty (Zero-Risk Bias)? 


– Does your thinking something will happen actually cause it to happen (Placebo Effect)? 


– Do you use the ends to justify the means (Outcome Bias)?


– Do you judge people by their race, class, gender, religion, sexual preferences, or national origin (Stereotyping)?


– Do you fail to recognize your own biases (Blind-Spot Bias)?


Perhaps if more people would open their minds to information and engage in genuine thinking and critical thinking, rather than a lot of fake news and hype, we would be a far better and stronger nation. 😉


(Source Graphic: Business Insider)

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Know Before Whom You Are Standing

So many synagogues have this important saying at the top of the Holy Ark where the Torahs are kept in front of the shul.


It says, translated into English:


“Know before who you are standing (i.e. G-d).”


The idea is to remember when you are in the holy place of worship that you are standing and praying before G-d and should conduct yourself appropriately and with respect and reverence. 


While certainly there are times when people forget themselves in the synagogue and say or do something not completely appropriate (e.g. socializing, talking, or even telling jokes to their neighbors during the service), usually it is not intended to be disrespectful, but rather to be friendly with their neighbors and community. 


However, this past Shabbat I witnessed behavior in the synagogue (name withheld)  that was truly a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d). 


Out of respect for the Rabbi (and Rabbabite), I will neither mention their names or go into the details about what happened except to say that it involved the politics surrounding the end of the Rabbi’s 3-year term and the inability for him and the board to come to terms on a new agreement (even though one had  apparently been signed and reneged on). 


This did not belong in the synagogue on the holy Shabbat, period. 


Those embracing and kissing the Rabbi in his support and going against the President and the board that is elected to represent the congregation was disgraceful. 


Further, while I support the Rabbi saying his farewells, demanding to speak without the permission of the President and the board, and even before the President gave his regular announcements was inexcusable. 


And when the fighting between the Rabbi and President brought yelling and fighting to the congregants, this should have been a sign for that behavior to immediately cease. 


The desecration of the “peace” of the Shabbat with the politics, money, and contract issues and the ensuing fighting (almost civil war between those supporting the Rabbi and those the President and the board) before the Holy Ark filled with the Torahs was reprehensible. 


For the spiritual leadership to behave in such a crude and disrespectful fashion was a mark of utter disgrace in the synagogue before G-d. 


I have never seen anything like this before and hope never to have to witness anything so irreverent again. 


This was a most traumatic event for the community and I hope we will recover in time and have a complete healing. 


Moreover, I pray that G-d forgives the behavior that happened and has mercy on this congregation because things got out of control and I think they forgot before whom they were standing.  😉


(Source Photo and not of the synagogue under discussion: Andy Blumenthal)

Sadistic SOBs

So the scariest people in the world are the sadistic ones. 


They are the ones without empathy.


They get pleasure from hurting others. 


Yes, we all hurt other people sometimes.


But it’s different when we do it by accident or when we feel bad about our wrongful actions.


Sadistic people don’t just not feel bad or regret…


Instead, they actually savor watching others suffer and squirm. 


Other people’s pain and misfortune are what gives them their energy and happiness. 


Rather than working on themselves, they rather put down others. 

“I’m better, because your worse or because I kick your a*s!”


What types of people are these? 


They are not really human. 


They are lacking genes for empathy. 


They are lacking a holy soul. 


They are cold, calculated, and hateful. 


While it wonderful to see some people seek love and peace. 


It is disturbing to see those that run after hate and harm. 


Your loss is their gain. 


Your pain is their pleasure. 


Your tears are their springs.


Your cries are their laughter. 


Why did G-d put these sub-humans in this world?


Perhaps to test us humans. 


Can we maintain dignity, integrity, and humanity among the beasts of hell? 


We can, but like others that have gone before us, we bear the mark of fighting with the devil. 


The devils live among us, but we must still strive to be angels before man and G-d. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Couple Arguing Loudly About Sex and Pregnancy On The DC Metro {Funny}

This couple is arguing loudly in front of everyone on the Metro in Washington, D.C. 


She claims the coming baby is his, and that he needs to take a paternity test. 


He says it’s impossible that it’s his because she’s 3 months pregnant and they haven’t had sex in 5 months!


This goes on and on in a most hilarious and boisterous way, and they even try and involve some of the innocent bystanders on the train. 


Always a show in this crazy town and it’s not just the politics! 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Folks Hating Folks

Love.jpeg

It’s sad how everyone is always fighting about everything.


And hating on each other…


Someone told a funny story the other day about this:

“She don’t like her.
He don’t like him.
And the supervisor says, I don’t like none of y’all, now get back to work!”


At the end of the day, we’re all different, and we’re all sort of the same. 


Maybe we have to look past the petty stuff, and learn to get along and get things done! 


At the end of the day, we’re all better off loving and getting it reciprocated–and so on and so on. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Doth Fear

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Innocent Shakespeare in the Park or violent assassination incitement of the President of the United States? 


Kathy Griffin holding up a severed head of the President.


Stephen Colbert’s tirade and obscenities.


And the list goes on and on…


Is this resistance or are things perhaps going too far for political discourse? 


Whatever your views, does the rhetoric need to get any hotter or more violent in this country. 


Cooler heads and compromise need to prevail for anything positive to come from all this.


Is it not still possible to unite under the shared values of freedom, human rights, and democracy that we all presumably hold dear and use these to advance our common cause? 


At least twice now protesters have stormed the Shakespearean stage calling the incitement as an evil portrayal reminiscent of those like Nazi Propaganda Minister, Goebbels (may his name and memory be erased).


The other side pretends nothing is going on and says, but it’s only Shakespeare. 


Demonstrating against the actors’ nightly violent portraying (and perhaps undisguised wishing for) the killing of the President, the plays’ protesters are themselves summarily dragged off by security.


Nothing seems to stop the shrill words, calls for violence, and violence itself. 


Just last week, we had the unreal and gross shooting of Congressman Whip, Steve Scalise, at an early morning baseball practice with his colleagues. 


For those who care to glimpse down the road, what happens from here as we seem to forget who we are as people and as a nation, and we let extremists take over the agenda.


I doth fear (a little Shakespeare myself here) that the problem with extremism and violence is that it can too easily beget more extremism and violence.


Incessant name-calling, an avalanche of punches by the media, hostility on college campuses towards free speech, SNL just poking fun (is this really so funny anymore), an inciting Shakespearean play, plus marches, protests, and then taking things too far.


Like the closing in a classic Shakespearean tragedy…should we all not fear how this will end? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Why We Fight?

Google Diversity.jpeg

Well first of all, let me say that I really liked this image on Google the other day. 


Beautiful to see the diversity and brotherhood (and including those with disabilities)!


I had a an interesting conversation with my daughter the other day about why people often don’t get along. 


She said something that I thought was really astute:


“If there were unlimited resources, then no one would have a reason to fight!”


Think about that a moment…


Everyone feels they don’t have enough or someone else has more then them or they are afraid they won’t get their share, and so what happens?


Like jealous little children, we fight for the pail and shovel in the sandbox. 


Only as adults, our sandbox is a lot bigger and it involves hate, bigotry, racism and deadly weapons including guns, knives, and even nukes!


So this isn’t the Garden of Eden where everyone prances around free and with plenty and nothing to worry about. 


Instead, everyone has to work “by the sweat of your brow,” and there are limits to what we have, and there is fighting over who has what.


Yes, truly “greed is the root of all evil.”


What we need to learn and internalize is that it’s more important how we act towards each other than what we have and that the real gold in life is the good we do and not the plenty we amass. 


Sure we each need enough to be able to survive and excel as human beings, but it’s fool’s gold that prevents us from seeing each other as the real brothers and sisters we all are. 


If only we had enough–in both perception and reality–then peace could reign among mankind. 😉


(Source Photo: Google)