I am a woman. And I am a Jew.
These are the only two things I can say about myself that have always been true. So, I suppose it makes sense that those are the two things that most define me. Both at times have put me at a disadvantage, but they have also given me unique perspectives- an ability to identify with other humans on the planet.
I can cry for the girl sold in marriage, and with the mother who fears for her children. I can understand the Muslim pride of faith, and the Asian respect for tradition. I can rail against bigotry and hatred, and rage about sexism and homophobia. I can see where assumptions, preconceptions, judgments and hatred can destroy something before its begun.
I can see these things, because I’ve been a little of all of them. As a woman and a Jew, my individual and collective history have taught me all the good and all the evil that humans are capable of.
I guess what I am saying is that we are who we are. White. Black. Muslim. Jew. Buddhist. Christian. Woman. Man. Inuit. African. Asian. And who we are brings with it history and culture, understanding and wisdom. Insight and curiosity.
As the grandchild of Survivors, I was always taught that good people can do bad things and that we must always be aware, be alert. Never be silent or by-stand when someone is being harmed– in any way.
We were to take the evil that was done to us and determine never to forget, so that Never Again. I’ve always felt it was my obligation to live that.
And I believe that if we can harness the things we have in common, focus on them, then we can all be a little bit of everything… and a little bit of everyone.
Yet, I live in a place on fire. I live in place where hate is bred. I live in a place where that hate told a 13 year old to murder another 13 year old.
Because even though they are 95% the same: human, child, boy, middle eastern, Abrahamic, middle class, believer, dreamer, soccer player, student, brother, son, grandson, friend, bike rider… and only 5% different: Muslim | Jew, they focus on those parts, those infinitesimal parts, that separate.
And so they remain worlds apart.
That divide has always been the root of so much evil…what divides us becomes the larger part despite it being so very small. How do we convince the world to focus on what is the same and to honor, and not abhor that which is different?
That answer I do not have. But I do believe it is the answer to everything.