Yesterday, a swastika was found spray-painted onto a statue in front of Temple Beth Hatfiloh – the mouth of the statue was spray painted also, like a gag.
This time of year we hear a lot regarding the angels of our nature: compassion, love, and respect. This kind of act is even more stark when contrasted with those virtues we profess. We show support for the Temple by sending kind words, thoughts, prayers. Often we seek to distance ourselves and our community from these acts by stating firmly that they don’t represent who we are, and who we strive to be. While that is a high ideal, I don’t believe it to be true. Yes, much of our community is open-minded, graceful, thoughtful, beautiful.
But there IS darkness also. If acts of hate like this vandalism (even if it was “just” a childish prank without any real hateful malice) occur here – or acts of racism, homophobia, classism, sexism, violence, etc – those acts also reflect who we are as a community. We do a grave disservice to ourselves by pushing it away, because at the same time we push away meaningful opportunities to address it. I think when things like this happen, it’s better if each of us took it personally, as if we or someone we loved were directly involved in the acts.
How do WE become the kind of community where these things don’t happen; that accepts refugees with love; that strives to lift people up out of poverty, addiction, and crisis; the kind of community that accepts responsibility for our actions good and bad – that drives out ignorance and hate by recognizing it in ourselves and purging it from our own hearts first?
If this season is a time of reflection for you, I hope you choose to reflect on these questions, and take them into the new year – planting seeds for future action.