Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass Press Release: On Tolerance, Hatred, and Respect (including response to Stephen Bannon appointment)

PRESS RELEASE

SUMMARY

The Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass (JFB) issues a call for tolerance, a rejection of hatred, and a respect for all. The JFB also asks that President-elect Trump reconsider his appointment of Stephen K. Bannon.

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STATEMENT

THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE BLUEGRASS CALLS FOR TOLERANCE, A REJECTION OF HATRED, AND RESPECT FOR ALL

The Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass issues a call for tolerance, a rejection of hatred, and an embrace of diversity and pluralism.

In recent months, we have seen a spate of incidents of intolerance and prejudice in the U.S. and abroad. Numerous instances of bullying, vandalism, violence, ugly language, and name calling targeting ethnic, racial, and religious minorities have led to a climate that both adults and children find unsettling and even frightening.

The appointment of Stephen K. Bannon, especially, as President-elect Donald Trump’s “chief strategist and senior counsellor” has caused consternation among many Americans, and particularly in the Jewish community.

All presidents should have the right to make their own choices as to who advises them on strategic and other matters. We respect the latitude necessary for a president to work efficiently and productively on issues of national and ultimate global significance.

Yet, Mr. Bannon, through his position as chief executive of Breitbart News, has associated himself with a variety of radical views that fall into the categories of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and misogyny. For these reasons, white nationalists and neo-Nazis celebrate him as one of their own. No one with these associations should be in the White House, especially among our president’s closest advisors.

It is the responsibility of our Federation to support and defend the rights of the Jewish community and all minority communities against all forms of bigotry, racism, hatred, and persecution.  We understand that prejudice, including anti-Semitism, exists at both ends of the political spectrum. History has taught us that silence is both unacceptable and dangerous.

We urge President-elect Trump to demonstrate his commitment to the pluralism, diversity, and respect for all Americans he pledged in his victory speech when he promised to “bind the wounds of division” in America.

As a first step in this endeavor, we ask President-elect Trump to reconsider his appointment of Stephen K. Bannon. We also request that he reach out and show in all his personnel appointments his desire to work toward genuine healing in our divided society.

Our Federation, along with other federations, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, continues to stand for the values we have always upheld: welcoming the stranger, fighting injustice, repairing the world, supporting Israel and Jewish communities around the world, speaking up for the voiceless, and protecting the orphan and the widow.

Hate is neither a Jewish nor an American value. We urge local, state, and national leaders on both sides of the aisle to speak up against this threat to American democracy, to uphold inclusion, to fight against bigotry and discrimination of all kinds, and we encourage other community groups to join in our efforts to combat prejudice and abuse.

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Idolatry

Anything can be idolatrous. Therefore, question everything.

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What Are We?

We are intersecting fields of eternal becoming.

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Is the U.S. Post-Christian?

BarnaPostChristian1

Evangelical Christian demographer, George Barna investigates whether the US is a post-Christian nation. He concludes that the US is moving in that direction:

http://www.barna.org/culture-articles/613-how-post-christian-is-us-society

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Mali and the Cruelty of Fundamentalist Religion

Mali1

Mali is a wonderful African country with gorgeous music, a cosmopolitan history, and a diverse population, but Al Qaeda Islamists have wreaked havoc on the northen section, including the culturally renowned cities of Gao and Timbuktu. This is another warning about what happens when the fanatically religious take control of a society (take a look at Christian fundamentalists in Uganda who are persecuting gays). The embedded video is hard to watch, but powerful:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/24/world/africa/mali-victims-speak-out/index.html

 

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Climate Change and Political Action

ClimateChangeMcKibben1

Bill McKibben complains that Obama is too patient on global climate change in the Guardian article below. However, we can’t expect Obama or any president or congress to do anything on their own. Politics never works that way and never has. Churchill responded to Hitler only because he really had no other choice other than to surrender to a brutal, maniacal dictator.

Environmentalists complain incessantly about how little Obama has done for the planet. However, it’s not his job. It’s our job and the job of activists. If not enough people accept climate change or the urgency of solving the problem, it’s up to environmental leaders to change the discourse and persuade people otherwise. If they aren’t up to the task, it’s their fault, not that of Obama or any politician.

Politicians like Obama will respond, and respond with urgency, if enough people demand it. Right now there is insufficient political space for Obama to do anything on climate change. Environmentalists must stop whining about the failure of political leaders and create the space themselves. This kind of action is what the planet is calling for us to engage in.

The job of a president (or any political leader in a democratic society) is to push people when they are not quite ready to do something, but need the extra lift to get them going. A president cannot create something out of nothing (only God–maybe–can do that in Genesis 1). It’s the job of the rest of us to move us to a place where the president can act without getting totally eviscerated.

From a spiritual point of view, humanity needs to act locally as members of broad-based coalitions and groups. We have depended far too long on individual leaders to do this work for us. By acting on our own as part of collective movements that transcend nation states, ethnic groups, socio-economic classes, and religions, we move humanity toward authentic empowerment by serving as co-creators.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/06/fossil-fuel-special-interests-barack-obama?commentpage=1

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Mormon Women Protest by Wearing Pants

MormonWomenInPants1

In a move to assert their rights in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and to bring attention to gender inequalities, Mormon women put out a call to wear pants to church. We may think of women as having achieved parity in many sectors of American society, but in religious institutions women often find themselves caught in the backdraft of ancient traditions and historical precedents.

In my own Jewish tradition, for example, women have found themselves arrested by Israeli police simply for wearing a prayer shawl (talit) while praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In fact, there is nothing in Jewish law that would prevent women from doing this: it’s simply a custom that men in authority don’t like.

This is another example of religious institutions trailing behind other sectors of society in promoting economic and social progress. In the modern world, organized religion has in fact mostly stood as an impediment to the expansion of freedom and to cultural advancement. In contrast, spiritual thought and practice is much more attuned to the unfolding consciousness that is very gradually bringing humanity to a higher state of awareness and living.

Thanks to these Mormon women for helping humanity move forward just a little bit further.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/us/19mormon.html?_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/us/19mormon.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121220&_r=1&

 

 

 

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“God”

The word, “God,” is a label that often cuts us off from “God,” our Source.

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Creation

Creation is a flow of multiplicity in an ocean of oneness.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Laurence Kant
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A Name

Naming the Source is impossible.  Once you name “God,” you are no longer describing the Source.

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Sacred Stories

Our lives are sacred stories. We are here to tell them and inspire others.

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Learning Lessons

How many lifetimes does it take to learn a lesson?  As many as it takes to learn the lesson.

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Free Will

Free will means the choice to be who we are.

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Judaism in Indonesia

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Moving beyond Time

Pure duration, eternity, infinity comes in those moments when time and the I melt away.

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What is the Wilderness?

What is the wilderness? The best place to encounter ourselves and the Source. Where is the wilderness? Inside us. Why is there a wilderness? To transform us.

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Oneness

Many paths, many truths, One Source

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Longing, Yearning

Longing, yearning, desiring for no longing, no yearning, no desiring. Just being.

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Reviving the Dead

“I could revive the dead, but I have more difficulty reviving the living” (Rabbi Simcha Bunim and Menahem Mendl of Kotzk).

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The Illusion of Certainty

We crave the illusion of certainty, but in reality even the smallest acts are a roll of the dice. Life itself is a calculated gamble. No outcome is guaranteed. Risk is an integral part of creation. Order and disorder coexist, as Torah describes right from the beginning of Genesis.

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Meditation and Prayer

Taking time to meditate and pray is one thing. Living in meditation and prayer is quite another.

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The SOURCE

The SOURCE is nothing. Nothing does not mean a vacuum, but no thing (no/thing). No/thing is pure energy.

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Attachment

Attachment is idolatry.  Letting go is the opposite of idolatry.

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Where am I?

Where am I? Here? Or there?

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Heinrich Harrer, “Seven Years in Tibet”

Heinrich Harrer, “Seven Years in Tibet”

I am almost finished reading Heinrich Harrer’s “Seven Years in Tibet.” A superb mountain climber, sportsman, geographer, and adventurer, the Austrian Harrer escaped from an internment camp in India and managed with a companion to make his way to Tibet in the 1940’s. Even though Tibet closed itself to foreigners, Harrer was able to navigate incredible physical obstacles and bureaucratic impediments to see rural Tibet and eventually make his way to Lhasa. Over time he became an important figure in Tibetan life and one of the Dalai Lama’s best friends. He learned to speak fluent Tibetan. Harrer was not a scholar or a religious leader, but a practical man whose humanity and spirituality overflow in spite of his apparent skepticism. It was that practicality and his love of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism which made him such a beloved figure in Tibet. Because he knew Tibet and Tibetans intimately, he did not idolize Tibet, but could love it for all its wonder and greatness and its flaws. He criticized the Tibetan resistance to adaptation to the modern world, a view which the Dalai Lama seemed to share. At the same time, Harrer deeply respected the emphasis on spirituality and ritual in Tibetan life. His stories of Tibetan workers who, upon seeing a worm in a shovel full of dirt, stop all their labor in order to preserve the worm’s life, is powerful and inspiring.

In Harrer’s memoir, the humanity of the Dalai Lama also comes through, and my respect for the Dalai Lama has deepened, as his Buddha nature appears not because of his lofty intellect or power, but because of his genuineness and authenticity. That seems to me what connects both Harrer and the Dalai Lama. They are first and foremost fully human, with very little posing or posturing. They are who they are. Harrer’s writing style is very matter-of-fact, which makes readers feels a sense of participating in the events described. I found the book gripping.

The Dalai Lama escaped Tibet in 1959, and he and Harrer remained close friends until Harrer’s passing in 2006 at the age of 93. I recommend this book highly.

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