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)

Ok To Be Ourselves!

Star of David Dress.jpeg

Someone shared this beautiful Jewish wedding gown on Facebook and I wanted to share it with you, because it represents life, love, and faith. 


While perhaps normally I wouldn’t just post this to my blog…


I thought that in light of the report that came out of 917 hate groups operating right now in the United States, that I would take this as an opportunity to be me.


To hell with all the haters out there!


– The more they hate us, the more I will love my Jewishness. 


– The more they try to stamp out our religious freedom, the more I will relish in it. 


– The more they try to kill us, the more I will live as a Jew.


No more Holocausts…no more bigotry…no more hate–it is enough! 😉

Love Is Like Cows

Cows

So had three funny instances today of the tales of woe when it comes to love.


The first was when someone was telling me that they are trying to meet women through online dating. 


But he goes, “No one gives anyone a chance anymore.”


It’s like if there is one thing wrong, it’s over.


He said, one lady wrote in her profile that if you are a fan of XYZ sports team, do not even bother contacting her.


Another was like if you’re of ABC political affiliation, forget about it!


He said people just don’t seem to want relationships anymore. 


Then I was talking coincidentally to someone else, who I knew was going out with someone already. 


I politely asked how things were going. 


He said, “Fine, but she is pressuring me to marry her.”


I said, “So if you love her, what’s wrong with that?”


And he responded, “Well then my whole life will change. I won’t be able to go to parties or on vacations anymore.”


Basically, he’s just happy being with her but on casual terms.


Then I told him (considerably younger than myself) how years ago mothers would warn their daughters about men’s thinking of “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.”


This guy was laughing like crazy when I said that. 


Finally, someone at the kiddush today told the joke about the Rabbi or Priest who lost his umbrella in the synagogue or church. 


His first thought was darn it, one of the congregants stole my umbrella. 


So he decided that for his sermon he would lecture the people about the Ten Commandments, one at a time from the beginning. 


But then when he got to the sin of adultery, he stops and says, “Oh forget it, I just remembered where I left my umbrella!”


Funny day for love and relationships–it’s something in the air, maybe cow patties.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Monster Under The Bed

Shiksa.com
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)

Even Tolerance Has Limits

Tolerance

This torn down sign in Washington, D.C. caught my eye.

 

It’s about ending bullying and teaching tolerance.

 

This poster specifically has to do with LGBT, but the universal message of acceptance is more broad.

 

While each of us has our own beliefs, we should allow others to have theirs as well.

 

My father used to tell me basically (that within G-d’s law), “You can do whatever you want in life as long as you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else.”

 

However, I am reminded this week that not everyone lives by the same common sense and decency.

 

I read in the Jerusalem Post about Palestinian Media Watch posting a Hamas video yesterday threatening “stabbing attacks [in Israel] everywhere…[and] suicide attacks on every bus, cafe, and street.”

 

Moreover, Arutz Sheva tells how a female Egyptian lawyer “recommended that Arab men begin sexually harassing Jewish women” as a mean of fighting Israel.

 

Then watching the news and seeing Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists from Gaza shooting missiles and intentionally aiming to try to hit major Israeli cities and population centers, airplanes, ports, and other critical infrastructure like the nuclear facility in Dimona that could potentially spread radiation and kill untold numbers of people–I am reminded morality is not universal.

 

While Israel calls the residents in Gaza to vacate before an attack on then empty buildings–the terrorists that Israel is fighting try to kill as many civilians as possible–at which time, they would presumably sing, dance, and hand out candy to the kids to celebrate as is their custom.

 

Like the sign calling for tolerance that was essentially torn from the pole, we have to remember tolerance for others is one thing, but there are limits when they actively seek to harm (themselves or) others.

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

War —> Peace

War_to_peace

I like this clever poster from the United Nations, published in March 2009 by their Department of Public Information, on “Translating War to Peace” with a dove carrying the letter “A” from the word war to the word peace.

If only peace was as simple as moving around a single letter.

Usually, it not the single letter that is painful, but when it becomes many letters and these letters form words of hate, bigotry, intolerance, and injustice that is indeed painful and where war does not translate to peace, but where war become unfortunately inevitable.

As individuals and a nation, I believe peace is what we all hope and pray for and that this comes from a spirit of brotherhood and unity around the world.

Although there are many prayers for peace, I am reminded of one specific beautiful prayer In Judaism, that we sing called “Oseh Shalem”

“May he who makes peace in high places, make peace for all of us and all Israel, and let us say Amen.”

I love singing this and humming the tune for this prayer–it is like a deep calling that resonates.

I noticed online that the United Nations “cancelled as a sales item” this poster for peace (and it’s also gone from Amazon), and it should make us all wonder where did that peace go and when will it return?

A genuine peace–more than a single letter and a secure and lasting peace of many letters.

(All Opinions my own)

A Single Candle

This video is an excerpt from the speech today by Israeli PM Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly.
Some highlights from this:
While Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle-East, it has been singled out for condemnation by the U.N. (in 21 out of 27 U.N. resolutions) more all than all other nations of the world combined.
And while “it doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain, it casts real villains in leading roles:”
Khadafi-led Libya chaired the U.N. Commission of Human Rights.
Saddam’s Iraq headed the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.
Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council.
Netanyahu recalls in his speech–that despite all the many capable and decent people at the U.N., when in 1984 he was appointed Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N., that the Lubavitcher Rebee foretold to him that he would be serving in a “house of many lies,” but that even in the darkest place, a single candle can be seen far and wide. 
I was proud to see the candle alight and hopeful that from it, intolerance, extremism, terror, and anarchy will be defeated. 
All people have a right to dignity and respect–may G-d grant us a path forward to find a genuine peace–one where we not only learn to live with each other, but perhaps where one day, we can learn to love each other, as we are all children of the one G-d in heaven–Oh, what a peace that would be!