Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Two Opposites and a Harmonious Resolution

June 27, 2009

Kabbalah teaches that the universe is built on a tripod, consisting of two opposites and a harmonious resolution. This is the pattern for everything in life. Stability and confidence is impossible without the support of all three legs of the tripod. We cannot have “shalom” without all three. This tripod – and its attendant challenge of conflict resolution – is inherent inside each one of us, in all of nature, of mankind as a whole, and in the spiritual realm as well.  –Korach (Numbers 16-18) Conflict Resolution

For the scholars of scripture they have an advantage over the rest of us. They have the time to think through some issues, take a step back, and perceive patterns that are opaque to us while we are in the trenches of the war of life. This week’s Torah portion is such an insight and when you think about it we can gain perspective on our lives, our community our country and the world.

I am struck by the conclusions to be reached by this statement. You see, if we are talking about a tripod, then if you take away any one of the legs it will fall. You might, as I did at first, focus on the harmonious resolution leg as the “most important.” Take it away and the tripod falls. For true harmony to evolve there must be recognition of discordant views. No two people (or for that matter two countries) can have identical views. Our thoughts, brain process, perceptions and conclusions are like fingerprints — they define us as unique individuals. So even if you say “I agree” you might find out sooner or later that you agreed with something the other person did not say or mean.

What this means to me is that for me to strive to live in a harmonious world I need to seek out both people who see things in similar ways to me AND people who don’t. I must engage BOTH the people who seem to agree with my world perspective AND those who don’t. Standing in the shoes of both “camps” is the only way I can perceive where there is commonality, conflict or room to compromise. With the recognition that life is a process and not a series of events comes the foundation of the process of harmony. Harmonious relations do not represent a static place of equilibrium, but rather a dynamic place of interaction, catalytic relationships and evolving development of ourselves, our society and our world.

Harmony and the whole tripod fails when we deny the existence of other points of view. If we deny the validity of other points of view we deny their existence and we deny the speaker the right to hold such views and express them. We take away one leg of the stool and the tripod fails — because there is nothing left to process toward a harmonious resolution.



Truth and Justice

December 8, 2007

Truth and Justice In our morning prayers and Sabbath prayers we reserve truth and justice to the province of G-d. It is as though we only consider those ordinances when we pray, as though these are the only times that we are under the eyes of G-d. And Truth and Justice are relegated and delegated to G-d and to those rare people who have the luxury of practicing it as a consistent part of their lives. Let me postulate a different general principle, that we are all empowered by submitting ourselves to a higher power. Therefore truth, justice and good deeds are the path to power and riches. Our Torah and prayer books exhort us to be better people than we were the day    before. Little steps each day add up to great works and legacies. We all know this, but we feel constrained by the behavior of others. After all there are many corrupt people in this world who hide behind the veil of righteousness. One need look no further than people in positions of trust and authority to find examples of corruption and circumstances that we think “force” us to fight fire with fire — to bend the rules, to deceive, and to win at all costs. But it doesn’t work out that way, does it? As all people are endowed with certain unalienable rights, as stated in the U. S. Constitution, so are they imbued with an innate knowledge of truth, justice, and fairness. It is true no matter where one looks in the world and no matter what religious practices are followed. The knowledge is there, and it is used more than we think. Yet I concede that culturally there is a perception of a divide between what we consider “real life” and the spiritual. Goodness, truth and justice are reserved for special times and special circumstances. The rest of the time we are at each other’s throats.  So how is that practice working out for us? If you feel the world is the way you would like it, then in truth there is nothing for you to do to make it better. But, if like most of us, you see conflict, intolerance, ideologies of prejudice, bigotry and grabs for power based upon an alleged superior world view or G-d view, then we have work to do. In my time on earth I have done good things and bad things. Most of all I have merely existed, doing neither good nor bad, more or less thinking of my life and the meaning of life in the abstract. This Blog is part of a multifaceted campaign of mine to change me, my life, into something more fruitful and more meaningful than it has been.  I reject reflection on my good deeds as an excuse to stop evolving. I can and I will be a better person today than I was yesterday and give thanks to G-d for the opportunity to do so. My prayers remind me of His presence, but it in my deeds that I serve G-d (and myself). If you have seen the movie “pay It Forward” you have some idea of what I am talking about. The idea is simple, and involves no special skills. Observe your environment in whatever way you can. Find some person who is in need of help. If you have something that will help them then do it as anonymously as possible. If you are not sure of yourself, ask. Respect the answer — either perform the mitzvah or move onto someone else.  Now here is the important part, refuse any word or act of thanks and instead, if you were unable to perform the mitzvah anonymously, express your appreciation to the person receiving your help for this opportunity to serve them and G-d. And then ask them to do one thing: ask them to find something good they can do for someone else that day no matter how small. 

You get the idea. Pass this on. Pass this on even to people that you are not sure will receive it well. They will surprise you.