Tags Posts tagged with "Unity"

Unity

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We need a unifying moment. Most of us are good people, most of us care about our families, our neighbors, our communities and the safety and soundness of our lives in America.

We need a moment when everyone can come together, regardless of their faith, background or individual beliefs, and decide that we believe in our city, state and country.

We need a moment when we are all Jewish. We need to show the people out there who are threatened by any one religion or belief that we all stand together, that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and that we will not tolerate any level of violence against a group because we support and believe in each other.

Wearing blue, as my children and their friends did the first day after the horrific attack in Pittsburgh, is a start.

There’s a wonderful climactic scene in the Kevin Kline movie “In & Out,” (1997). A former student of Kline’s has outed him as gay just before his wedding. The town wants to remove him as a teacher, despite his dedication to his students. During a graduation ceremony, people who have known and appreciated Kline’s commitment stand up, one by one, and declare that they, too, are gay, rallying behind a teacher who meant so much to them.

Violence, discrimination and hatred toward any one group will be spectacularly difficult if the group suddenly includes everyone. I’m not suggesting that anyone changes religions. I am, however, suggesting that people stand together with Jews, Muslims, lesbian and gay populations and make it clear to anyone who would target these groups with bullying, hatred or worse that we as a unified group will not allow it.

Pursuing the death penalty against the perpetrator of this violence may be a deterrent to other people who might consider similar acts, although I suspect that the diseased minds who crave relief through murder may not care that much about their fate.

We need to send a signal beyond the death penalty for those contemplating violence. We need to tell them that the group they hate is larger than they think and the actions they are considering are unacceptable to all of us.

Just over 20 years ago this month, Matthew Shepard was killed for being gay. Ideally, today people can express their sexual preference without fear of anger or violence. Unfortunately, we don’t yet live in an ideal world, so we must stand together with this generation’s Matthew Shepards.

This isn’t a political moment. This is a time when caring community members can and will stand, side by side, to make it clear that, despite our differences, despite our frustrations with each other, despite our irritation at someone who takes our parking spot, we are a community that cares.

Most people feel helpless in the face of abominable acts as in Pittsburgh. In addition to finding a time and place to stand together, we should tell people we are gay or Jewish or Muslim. We should wear those labels with pride, the way we put on a new dress, shoes or tie the first day after we buy it.

Perhaps, all week, when we pick up the phone, we should say, “Joe’s Deli, this is John and I’m Jewish. How may I help you?” Or, “It’s a great day at the store. This is Alice and I’m gay. How can I help you”

It’s impossible to hate “the others” when everyone belongs to that group. We need a unifying moment and it starts with each of us.

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By Paul Feinberg

While walking near Central Park the other day, watching the construction of a massive skyscraper, a thought came to mind. On one hand, we as humans posses the brilliance to make this happen, and on the other hand, we have difficulty getting along in a humanistic manner.  Amazing, I say. Sad, I say. Unfortunate, upsetting and disturbing, I say.

In the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changin’.”  But for the better? Or for the worse?     

As I see it, the concept of abuse is out of control. Whether the form taken is physical, mental, sexual, drug, alcohol, eating, et al., it appears out of control.

How difficult it is for humans to fully embrace the concept of “things are the way they are, because we, together, allow it; because we choose to be disconnected.” We seem to struggle to think clearly and to stay united and connected. It takes a conscious level of awareness or mindfulness, or whichever terminology fits, to be developed and focused.

Again we are currently witnessing a high level of abuse in our society, in various forms: violence, terrorism, drug abuse, mental abuse, suffering, among others. We all play a part in allowing it to continue. We can all benefit by training our minds to be caring, respectful, gentle, kind, loving, understanding, tolerant, patient and sensitive with each other and also with ourselves.

We have collectively allowed ourselves to tolerate behaviors which have become the norm in today’s society; behaviors which are abusive, hurtful and disrespectful. Consider allowing ourselves to focus on the effect our behavior has on ourselves and on others — to create a healthier society.

Focus on the effect our behavior is having on the receiver, with regard to sincerity, honesty, caring, understanding, sensitivity, love, compassion and truthfulness — so that this new approach may become infectious and result in an epidemic — like a plague, or a disease which spreads rapidly through society.

Each of us has within us the potential to develop this new consciousness, with the proper training, guidance and support. Let us focus not solely on ourselves, but on others — and collectively work towards creating a healthy society for ourselves and future generations.

Let us allow ourselves to empower ourselves, to feel a greater energy in being part of building a consistently better place to live. Let us be constructors of the creation, rather than recipients of unhealthy circumstances created by individuals with, perhaps, unhealthy motivations.

We do not have to accept these changing times, if we learn how to empower ourselves. Let us collectively do this — in great numbers. Let us not just talk about it. Let us live it as part of our lifestyle on a daily basis.

In the words of Eli Wiesel, “We must always take sides, neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. We must interfere.”

Paul Feinberg lives in S. Setauket. He is a retired Three Village junior high school guidance counselor and acting administrator.   

The annual Huntington Awareness Day Parade and Fair kicked off on Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. The parade honored a number of local individuals. Ed Brady, longtime commander of the Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct who retired earlier this year, served as the event’s grand marshal. Huntington Awareness Day has become an annual tradition, with thousands of people turning out to celebrate the community’s unity, diversity and solidarity.