Take Off The Halo and Horn

Thought this was a learning moment. 


The halo and horn effects. 


This has to do with generalizing about people, things, places, or events. 


With the halo effect, if we like (are positive) about one or a few things about it, we may put a proverbial halo on it and and treat or rate everything about it as great.


Similarly, with the horn effect, if we dislike (are negative) about one or a few things about it, we may put a proverbial horn on it and treat or rate everything about it as horrible. 


This means were not really being objective or balanced in our assessment. 


Usually, it’s not all just good or bad, black or white–but good AND bad, black AND white.  


And obviously, this can cause us to make bad decisions based on poor analysis and judgement. 


Therefore, the importance of taking a step back, looking holistically at all the facts, and evaluating things for what they really are, rather than making snap calls to judgement–and poor ones at that! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to darksouls1)

Relating To G-d Through Rules And Relationships

Arches

So we had some friends come visit last night. 


They are religious Christians (brother and sister) who love the Jewish people, and one of them actually attends our synagogue on a regular basis. 


We had a nice time talking and eating, and I also learned an interesting religious lesson.


The man told me how he understood that Judaism is very focused on rules (i.e. laws) that people are supposed to follow as laid out in the Torah.


But he said, it is also important to build a relationship with G-d.


The relationship being about sincerely knowing that G-d is there for us, that we are bound to him, that we express our gratitude for everything he does for us, and that we ask him for what we need. 


I think the main difference in how he described it was that is was not in a rote and ritualistic type of way, but rather as in a real relationship, where we talk to G-d naturally and recognize him benevolently and lovingly. 


As Jews, we know we cannot substitute a loving relationship with G-d for doing what we are commanded to do, but perhaps we can do both. 


We can follow the rules–the do’s and don’ts–AND we can bind with G-d in a one on one relationship–where we are and feel bound to him not just because we must, but rather because we really love him for creating us, sustaining us, and he is the ultimate good in universe.


When we are in a “relationship” with G-d, it’s because he is someone we want to cling to, relate to, talk to, and yearn for. 


This is a just little different than how I learned about this in yeshiva, where it was much more about loving and fearing G-d in a  rule-based way–again because we are commanded to do it.


But perhaps it is nice also to love and fear G-d, because he is G-d and we are in a deep and growing relationship with him. 😉

UN Inhuman Rights

Hamas_Baby_Armor
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for investigation of Israel for possible violations.



Hmmm, how does that make sense?



Israel abides by every ceasefire, sets up medical facilities for Gazans, provides advance warning of fighting to get innocents out of the way, and makes every attempt to withhold fire when civilians are at risk. 



This while Hamas and Islamic Jihad use babies as human shields and indiscriminately target vast population centers and critical infrastructure in Israel.

 

Incredibly, the UN Relief and Works Agency facilities in Gaza (e.g. schools) were being used to hide missiles for use against Israel and upon discovery, the UNRWA returned these to terrorists to continue to harm civilians. 



Unfortunately, in these cases, the UN is not protecting human rights, but rather is enabling the “rights” of dangerous terrorists to act grossly inhuman and immoral.  



Where politics trumps right and wrong…evil is permitted to flourish and good is diminished in the world.



Only 13 years since the 9/11 attack by Islamic terrorists that killed almost 3,000 innocent civilians here…is the world again getting amnesia on the very dangerous threat it faces?



(Source Photo: here from The Yeshiva World)

Choosing Between Democracy and Freedom

Choosing Between Democracy and Freedom

This is a photo I took in the Metro in Washington D.C.

It is an advertisement for a cessation of hostilities in Syria where estimates are over 100,000 people killed in civil war, so far.

Now in Egypt, you have about 1,000 killed in the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood and violence continues there as well.

What is really confusing is that in both cases you have terrorists and extremists fighting more secular societies–yet, we do not unequivocally support the secularists in their battle again Jihadists.

At the same time, we went to war for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a “war on terror” and to this day it continues with somewhat regular drone attacks.

While I understand that as a Democracy we need to support fair and free elections, does this mean we have to buttress up fundamentalists, extremists, and terrorists–just because they got voted in.

Sometimes, people don’t know or understand what they are voting for until its too late, which seems to be what happened in Egypt when the people elected the Muslim Brotherhood.

Similarly, the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930’s won many seats in the Reichstag, and we know the ten of millions murdered and the destruction that this led to.

Democracy, does not mean good always prevails, but when evil is rightfully elected what are we to do–simply support free elections or support good over evil?

Perhaps, the notion of good and evil is a little simplistic (especially when neither side may be very good), but the idea is the same, are we fighting for free elections or the better candidate in terms of overall freedom, human rights, and world peace.

Can we really afford to straddle the fence here? 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Panera Bread and The Disabled Man

Panera_bread
So how many of you have seen the ABC show “What Would You Do?” hosted by John Quinones.
The show is a little like “Candid Camera,” which ran for over 5 decades, in which a practical joke was played out on people with a hidden camera capturing their reactions. Then when the joke was over, the people would be told “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.”The new show “What Would You Do?” is similar in that a scenario is played out with a hidden camera, but rather than a joke, people are tested with illegal or unjust situations to see what they would do and whether they would speak up for the victim? It is a test of character and conviction. And at the end of the scenario, Quinones and the cameras are revealed.

I was reminded of this show yesterday, when I was in at Panera Bread and at the table next to me was a disabled man in a scooter–hunched over and not looking too well.

At one point, the disabled man leaves the table for a moment to get something to eat or go to the bathroom, perhaps.

In the meantime, another man comes over and takes his table. When the disabled man in the scooter returns and asks for his table back, the other man simply ignores him (intentionally) and keeps eating as if the diasabled man wasn’t even there.

The kicker here was that the disabled man could not really sit anymore else as this particular table had the extra room around it that he needed to get his scooter in at.

The disabled man put his head down and just shook his head in disbelief that the other man wouldn’t let him sit back at the table.
The man eating his sandwich finally says, “No one was here–this is my table!”

At this point, I couldn’t stand seeing this poor man suffer anymore, and I said “He was sitting there, the whole time, and just left for a moment.” To which, I thought this whole “misunderstanding” between the men would be resolved.

But I was wrong!

The man eating his sandwich at the table then shakes his head and nods his shoulders indicating that he just didn’t care and too bad on the disabled man.

In turn, I offered the disabled man our table and that we would move instead, but he refused and just waited for the other man to do the right thing.

At this point both myself and my wife and the people sitting on the other side of the man try to intervene and ask that he please give the disabled man his table back, where he had been sitting, so he could finish his meal.

Then, the man at the table slams his fist down and starts cursing us all out, loudly.

My wife got up to get the store manager, and while she does this the man finally moves to another table pushing an empty chair at us.

I couldn’t help thinking how this was like the show “What Would You Do?”–but this was real life and this horrible man was no actor!

And John Quinones did not appear to interview everyone after and have a few laughs. Instead, we were saddened by how some people can be so cruel to others and I was reminded by something I had read from Voltaire that stated that “every person is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.”

My hope is that whatever hurt this person had in their life that would cause them to treat others this way is healed and that they can find in their heart to have mercy on others and help them rather than get angry and spiteful–there are more tables to eat at and the food is just as good over there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Rape Outrage!

Rape

On the Night of December 16–coming home from watching a movie at the New Delhi Mall, a 23-year old woman was savagely gang-raped and her male companion, who tried to defend her, was beaten while on a bus being driven around the Indian capital for 45 minutes!


I iust want to stand with those protesting against the barbarism of the people who brutally gang-raped, tortured, and grotesquely inserted a metal rod inside her, causing her such bodily damage that even a team of eight specialists at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore that specializes in multi-organ transplants, could not save her. 


The woman had such severe internal injuries that most of her intestines had to be removed, and according to CBC News, she suffered from organ failure, a lung infection, as well as brain damage. 


After the rape, torture, and beatings, the victims were stripped and thrown off the moving bus.


It is sick and evil that the driver not only stood idly by and did nothing to help her, but has been charged as well in the actual rape!


I am deeply saddened not only by the gang rape, but also according to the Daily Times that they happen with such frequency that they are “rarely [even] reported in the Indian press.” 


This is another wake up call for people of good conscience to stand against those that commit evil and to not be silent in the face of such atrocities.


The cries of this woman, and other victims of violence like her, can be heard throughout the world. 


She will not be forgotten, and to those savages may justice be done–in this world or the next by the all-mighty G-d who hears our prayers.


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Daniel Crompton)

We Are Driven!

Riots

We are driven to do what?

Some of us to succeed and others, seemingly, to various destructive behaviors that thwart our success.

In the book, The Charge, by Brendon Burchard, he argues that we need to harness our drives to increase our success rate.

Burchard categorizes our drives into baseline and forward drives–and has 10 of them–almost like the Ten Commandments (Cs)–five in each area (or on each tablet).

Baseline drives are those which he says make us happy:
– Control
– Competence
– Congruence
– Caring
– Connection

Forward drives are those which help us evolve:
– Change
– Challenge
– Creative Expression
– Contribution
– Consciousness

Wonderful–10 C’s, all nicely packaged.

While I generally agree with these human drives, something is not satisfying about these–they seem academic, stale, and the fodder of a marketing brochure.

Where is the energy of humans to live, love, and laugh?

Where is the longing for spirituality, purpose, and meaning?

Where is the drive to do good and occasionally, to do what we know is wrong.

Where are the vices–the drives to conquer, to own and to hoard, to go crazy at times,?

Burchard has provided a very one-sided picture of human nature–maybe the side, we would rather acknowledge and focus on, but in ignoring human frailties and tendencies to veer off to the other extremes as well, he is missing an important point–and that is the human nature is a fundamental push and pull.

Yes, we are driven to happiness and evolution, and on one hand these drives manifest in the rosier side of human nature such as care and contribution, but on the other side, people drives to happiness and evolution may mean their taking what they want, when and how they want it, and to the exclusion of others who are competing with them in a world of limited resources.

It is nicer and easier to envision a world, like the Garden of Eden, where there is plenty for the few, and everything is provided and just a pull from the fruit tree away.

But in the real world, it is wiser to recognize that our happiness and evolution may mean someone else goes hungry tonight–sad, but true; and only when we are real, can we work to overcome this and to provide plenty for all–through safeguarding of basic freedoms and human rights for everyone.

Happiness and evolution can be different for the individual and society–for the individual, one’s gain may come at another loses (e.g. the stock market, competing for a spot in top-tier school, or beating out the competition for that plume Wall Street job), but for society, success means creating win-win situations where everyone can go to bed with a full stomach and knowing that they have a fair shot at opportunity tomorrow.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Beacon Radio)