You Were Taught This


Whatever your holy book, somewhere in those pages you can find some directives – perhaps they’re instructions, possibly Commandments – that tell us how to behave.

For example, the Exodus story is a stunning message about freedom. The story is retold every year at the Passover Seder. It’s like all traditions, in that it’s reinforced through repetition so that we both remember its lessons and educate new generations.

At the Seder we are admonished to, “Remember, you were slaves in the land of Egypt.” That’s “you” as in: each of us today. The message isn’t about some quaint, obscure people who had 430 horrible years as slaves those thousands of years ago. Those people were just like us and they craved and loved freedom as much as we do. That’s why retelling the story is critical for us today, lest we forget and recreate those horrible years for ourselves or others. That’s why we are admonished to welcome the stranger, because once we were strangers. Think: Immigration reform.

We are also directed not to curse the deaf, nor place a stumbling block before the blind. I’m confident you can see through the metaphors about refusing to be cruel to others or influencing others to do harm. Think: Rage at school board meetings; death threats; and conspiracy theory hatred. Seriously, we’re not supposed to do that stuff.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Try this.

Some years ago my friend Tom was going through a difficult period and was facing it head-on. He came across the term “loving kindness” and explained some of what he learned about it.

It’s a solitary term, he said; nothing else quite captures the essence of its meaning. My best guess is that somewhere in your past you were taught the concept and the sweetness, generosity and purity of its meaning. Somebody told you that this is something important, something we’re supposed to do. Perhaps you remember.

Maybe it was offered this way.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” For those of us who have difficulty getting beyond ourselves, that makes the recommended treatment of others easier to understand. Just love them, the directive says, and we understand, because we, too, want to be loved.

The word “loved” might cause some confusion, given that our definition today may vary from what it meant thousands of years ago. And the message has been filtered through multiple language translations, too. So, try “care about” instead, or “care for.” Regardless, we have clarity about how we want to be treated as the benchmark, a True North for how we are directed to treat others. It’s about caring. *

The problem is that we moderns aren’t doing a great job of following those simple, clear directions from our Human Being Manuals. We haven’t managed to stop enslaving one another. We still refuse freedom to others and refuse to welcome strangers and we inflict cruelty or we condone it. The concept of loving kindness enters our consciousness far too infrequently and we’re afraid of our neighbors, so it’s really hard to care about them.

Click me for the story.

You’re seeing horrific pictures from Ukraine every day. All of its cities are being reduced to rubble. People are being murdered, and yes, it’s first degree murder, because it’s premeditated. There are people there who spend their days dodging missiles and bombs, who are sleeping in the cold and have little or nothing to eat. There is no fresh water, so they’re drinking pond water and melting snow. Your internal meter that monitors your sense of right, of justice and of humanity has been pegged out and flashing red for weeks and you know you have to do something. But what?

I looked into getting a flight to Warsaw, figuring to find ground transport to the Ukrainian border to help refugees there somehow, but I’m afraid I’m past my sell-by date for such things. There must be another way to help.

In a short presentation to our local village board, a senior in high school offered a couple of simple ideas.  And really, this doesn’t have to be complicated.

Her family came from Ukraine and, as you will surely understand, she has strong feelings about what is happening to her ancestral homeland and its people. She named a couple of agencies doing relief work for Ukrainian refugees. Have a look at UMANA and Razom.

Look at what World Central Kitchen is doing. They are providing hundreds of thousands of hot meals for those very cold refugees. Kick in something so that stomachs get warmed and filled.

You can go here and see what AirBnB is doing to provide housing, or here or here or here or scroll through the slides on this New York Times page to find various agencies helping these suffering people. Check them all for veracity here.

At very least we can support the do-gooders so that they can do the good that so desperately needs to be done.
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If donating money isn’t how you want to do it, that’s okay. Find another way. Here’s some creative thinking from my friend, futurist David Houle.

He has committed to buying 10% less gasoline. He can do that and so can you and I with just a little brain work, like combining trips instead of being wasteful. That 10% reduction in consumption by lots of us will take pressure off gas prices, our climate crisis and the pressure to import Russian fossil fuels, which we don’t want to do ever again. Read David’s post. Then commit and tell others about it.

You know well the messages about freedom, welcoming the stranger, loving thy neighbor and loving kindness. That’s why your internal meter is flashing red and screaming for your action. You were made to right this wrong and you know in your bones that you have to do something.

You were taught this.

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* Tucker Carlson doesn’t care, nor do millions who listen to that anti-American fool. Mother Jones revealed how Putin is using the drivel that comes from Carlson’s mouth. He’s stuffing it into his propaganda to control the Russian people and continue his Ukrainian genocide.

Tucker Carlson is helping Putin to murder Ukrainians right now.
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I don’t think his Human Being Manual instructed him to do that. His is free lance apostasy.

Be sure to read that Mother Jones piece, as well as John Pavlovitz’s explainer, I’m Sick of Pretend Patriots and the Phony Faithful. This is the time for real patriots and lovers of liberty to stand and be counted.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
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One Response to You Were Taught This
  1. David E Houle Reply

    Thanks Jack!