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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why We Protest Violence And War

While at a protest against both the American use of drones and Israel's bombing of Gaza, a sad contrast between the speakers occurred. On the one hand, we thankfully had a minister, amongst others, speak against US's use of drones. And we just as gratefully had a Jewish psychologist speak against Israel's bombing of Gaza. This psychologist describes her Judaism as being more spiritual than religious. I should add that I am fortunate that the latter person is a very important friend. 

But the sad part of the afternoon was that those who spoke against the drones, including the minister, focussed so much on the pragmatic reasons why we shouldn't use drones. According to them, we shouldn't use drones because of the blowback that will eventually come back to haunt us. In contrast, my friend gave a strong moral appeal as to why Israel should not bomb Gaza. She said it was wrong to treat the Palestinians the way Israel does. 

Where the sadness comes into play is that those who primarily appealed to pragmatism and practicality were, in the end, appealing to self-interest only. In contrast, by focusing on morality, my friend was appealing to our obligations to and interest in others. So the pragmatic appeal was inner directed while the moral appeal was outer directed. What is unfortunate is not the presence of the practical appeal, but that the moral appeal was not sufficiently used in all of the speeches. Perhaps, this is a tragic sign of the times.

But we should note that moral appeals can work both for and against our self-interests. Moral appeals can work against our self-interest by asking us to sacrifice short-term gains where the gains are fame and fortune. What is gained when we sacrifice morals to get what we want are rewards that are artificial in nature. They are artificial because they are impersonal and not according to nature. Rather, they work against nature. But such gains, to paraphrase what was written in the Bible, can be sweet in the mouth but bitter in the stomach. That is because the after effects of such gains cause us to lose a part of what it means to be human, to be a person. These results can include losing our souls. 

So it can be in our self-interest to be moral depending on what floats your boat. Is fame and fortune more important to us than the welfare of others and a healthy soul? If so, then self-interest will direct us to sacrifice morals to reach an end. If not, then part of being moral and outer directed will also mean becoming more inwardly healthy.

Now the above might not be the same kind of moral appeal that my fine fellow flaming fundamentalists friends and family forever favor, but I would caution us not to be so dismissive. There is plenty of truth in what she wrote.

So, the rest of this week's post will simply direct us to what my friend read from when she spoke. She wrote this article about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians in 2003 and it is simply one of the best writings I have seen on the conflict. Realize that she is speaking to Israel as a Jew and yet what she wrote can apply everywhere and to all of us. So her writing here is just as meaningful and appropriate today as when she first wrote it, if not more so.

Thoughts For Yom Kippur from Rita Corriel

"Hear O Israel":
I feel the deepest sense of sorrow, outrage, shame and fear, as I witness what appears to be the authoring of the final chapter in the history of the Jewish People. I believe it is a most profound and heartbreaking irony that, after suriving three thousand years of persecution as the 'other', in the end, it may be the state of Israel itself, the literal interpretation of the 'Promised Land', which actually kills Judaism. No one else *could* have done it. As long as we held to the love of the 'Law of G-d', the spirit of Judaism could not be destroyed. As long as the love of wisdom, justice, compassion and truth were alive within the people, the Jewish soul was indomitable. Because these qualities reflect ultimate values and higher Truth, they are life affirming and necessary for the survival of all human beings.

Click here to read the rest of the article.  Rita's current email address is rcorriel@verizon.net.

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