It is perfectly natural to attribute one’s failures to things one’s parents did. It is perfectly normal to blame events or people in one’s past for present problems. But winners living successful lives don’t do that. Champions of achievement rarely do what is normal and what is natural. They know that blaming yesterday’s pain for today’s folly assures tomorrows of more of the same.
Jen Bricker could easily have abandoned her dream to become a gymnast. It would have been perfectly natural and perfectly normal for her to have blamed the genetic defect that caused her to be born without legs. But she became a gymnast.
Jaime Escalante wanted to become a great teacher. He could have blamed his South American accent for failing. Or he could have blamed being assigned to a ‘class of losers’ in a hopeless high school in East Los Angeles. But he turned those students of his into calculus stars and he himself became the star of the movie, “Stand and Deliver.”
Felix Zandman’s idyllic youth came to an end when as a teenager he was flung into a Polish ghetto. From there he was moved to a German concentration camp where he watched Nazi thugs murder his family. After enduring unimaginable trauma, he was liberated and finally found his way to America. He could have remained a victim, blaming the horrors to which he was subjected. Instead he built up a business into one of the world’s largest electronic component manufacturers, Vishay Intertechnology.
Nothing would have been more normal than for the Jews to have blamed millennia of dysfunction on hundreds of years of Egyptian slavery.
It would have been so natural for Jews to forever see themselves as perpetual victims; all that anti-Semitism ever since those far off days when Egypt enslaved them. Even young Jews in Beverly Hills or Manhattan who’d never known an Egyptian let alone even a day of oppression should be blaming their lack of achievement on Egyptian slavery. Nothing could be more normal or more natural.
But things never turned out that way. From the day slavery ended for them, 3,330 years ago Jews were prohibited from fixating obsessively on Egyptian anti-Semitism. Here is the operative verse:
…You may not hate or loathe any Egyptian because you were resident in his land.
We were “resident” in his land? Not by choice we weren’t! Yet, nonetheless, the Lord directs us to harbor no hatred towards those who, in the past, wronged us so grievously. Ancient Jewish wisdom explains the reason for this request that instructs us to behave in abnormal and unnatural ways, namely not retaining anger and resentment towards those who wronged our ancestors. The reason is that without this Divine directive, Jews would have inevitably wallowed in the memories of past injustice and indignity. This would have shackled their creativity and darkened their vision of future potential. However, God did outlaw this hypnotic stare at the rearview mirror. This liberated the Hebrews to look through the windshield and drive forwards into a brightly lit future.
This lesson can benefit all of us. Every one of us can search and easily find something in our past to blame for why we are not making the most of today. This is tragically prevalent in the financial area. By mistakenly ascribing power to the past, so many of us are inescapably chained to a poor vision of ourselves.