An editor’s call for letters of another kind
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO – There are times when I would prefer not to open my e-mail. So often it seems that the only people really motivated to write are those with some axe to grind.
These include a vociferous minority of Jews who seem to hate all Arabs and Muslims, and a smaller, but equally strident, minority of our people who take any opportunity to denounce Christians. As we refuse to run on our news site generic attacks on any group of people, these messages all are consigned to the trash, where they belong.
I find myself fantasizing at times that our e-mailbag will be filled with positive letters from people who want to write about the mentors in their lives who have motivated them to do good. How I would love to read—and to re-publish—letters and commentaries about those people whose lives were spent in service to others, and especially those who dedicated themselves to making peace between rivals.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, instead of clenching our jaws in anger as we read some missive, we could nod with appreciative understanding and admiration? Wouldn’t you like to read about people whose lives exemplify the highest aspirations—rather than the lowest emotions—of humanity?
I don’t believe that we will preserve and enhance Jewish life simply by being more militant than our adversaries. While there are short-term P-R gains to be made by counter-picketing and having questioners ready to contradict biased academic panels discussing the Middle East, our longer term goals will be served by publicizing not what we are against, but what we are for.
I believe that we Jews, as a people, must continuously articulate for ourselves standards of goodness that we can take pride in upholding, and core beliefs that others, upon reflection, will consider worth emulating.
One such belief is that every human being deserves to be treated with dignity, and that when we debase or dehumanize others, we undercut our own humanity. The great singer Aretha Franklin had it right, what people need and want is r-e-s-p-e-c-t, and we ought to give it to them, all of them.
I’d like to invite our readers to write to us about the people in their lives who have been positive influences on them, who exemplified values worth upholding, and who could benefit the world if only more people would profit by their positive examples.
Let’s discuss and refine our appreciation for the good. Please consider sharing with us stories about the people for whom you have r-e-s-p-e-c-t, and why!
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World