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Make Mine a Capital

Being a homeschooling mom taught me a tremendous amount. Not only did I vastly expand my knowledge of academic subjects but the adventure encouraged me to think independently. Growing up as an extremely compliant student, I dutifully completed my lessons and studied hard. As an adult looking at textbooks and workbooks from a different vantage point, I was full of skepticism.

Raise your hand if you know to start a sentence with a capital letter when writing in English. How about if you know that people’s names should be capitalized? Now think back to when you learned those basic rules? If you grew up with English as your primary language it was probably quite early. Perhaps in 1st grade or even before that.

When I looked for homeschooling material, this fact made it hard for me to understand why English language and grammar workbooks aimed at second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-graders opened with a basic lesson about capitalization complete with practice exercises. The simple rules aren’t so convoluted that they needs constant repetition. These same books didn’t, for example, continue showing pictures of a mop, broom and pail, asking students to underline the word that starts with an ‘m’ sound. The assumption was that once you learned the ‘m’ sound, you didn’t need to be retaught it every year.

By teaching multiple grades, either at the same time or over the course of homeschooling, I became aware of just how much needless and boring busy-work like this is included in our children’s education. Don’t we all get annoyed when, for example while trying to access help for an insurance claim, we are relayed from agent to agent and forced to endlessly repeat information?  Unless they have been dulled into a stupor, intelligent children similarly object to wasting their time on repetitive nonsense.

The rule about starting a sentence with a capital letter doesn’t actually need a workbook at all. It is easy to point this pattern out after a session of cuddling on the couch while reading to a young child. When that same child  begins to write, the rule can be emphasized and insisted upon in formal writing, such as thank you notes. In fact, the time saved from doing those needless workbook pages can go to dictating or writing actual letters that utilize capitalization while cementing relationships as well as instilling thoughtfulness, gratitude and manners. Those lessons, after all, are the ones that truly need repetition every year of our lives.

Rush to Judgment; Ambling to Correction

In my last Musing,  I questioned the “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump,” shouted out at a performance of Fiddler on the Roof. I didn’t know what was wrong with the reporting, but I wasn’t willing to automatically accept the “white-supremacist blame it on Trump” story.
Turns out he is an anti-Trump (presumably liberal?) man who was drunk and did shout this out, but as a way of insulting the President.
Would you believe that headlines, like the one on the Huffington Post that are giving the follow-up, mention an apology by the man but don’t correct the misinterpretation of his act? You have to read the whole story to shatter the white-supremacist myth. This means most people will be left misled.

Which World Is Yours?

This week, at the intermission of a performance of Fiddler on the Roof at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, MD, according to people in the audience, a man interrupted the show by standing up and yelling ‘Heil, Hitler,’ “Heil Trump’. Understandably, the audience was shaken and at least one woman said she expected bullets to start flying. That didn’t happen and the man was escorted out but not arrested.

I added the words, “according to people in the audience,” for one reason only. When I read the reports, more than one person saw the Nazi salute and heard Heil Hitler, but one man was the source of the Heil Trump citation. While I’m not attacking that man’s veracity, the political climate is simply too venomous not tack on concepts like ‘allegedly’ on almost everything one reads or hears. The video from someone’s phone that I saw suggests that most people were unaware or unfazed by what was going on. It certainly isn’t a good thing, but is it an omen? 

Leaving the words ‘Heil Trump’ aside, because they are irrelevant for my thoughts in this Musing, I am seeing a trend in the media of focusing on incidents that promote a theory that there is a major resurgence in white-supremacy activity. Is something really going on or is this like the summer of the shark attacks, where there was no increase in the number of people attacked but a large increase in the coverage given to those attacks?

I would like to know the truth, but there is barely a pretense that this is about anything other than labeling President Trump, and by association anyone who supports him, as racist and anti-Semitic. Quite frankly, I treat anything I hear on TV or read in most popular publications the way I imagine that Russians treated Pravda. If I sift through the propaganda and lies I might get an inkling of what’s going on, but I am being given thought-direction rather than unbiased information.

What I am being told is so different from the world in which I live. My world is a world of lots of those who would be (by those knowing nothing of their individual stories) labeled as privileged white men. I see their friends, co-workers and fellow church-goers and pastors whose skins are black, brown and yellow and about half of whom are female. It is a world where every Christian high school student I know reads The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, who is presented to these students as a role model.  Corrie ten Boom’s father and sister lost their lives to the Nazis while she, herself, was incarcerated in a concentration camp. Her Christian faith motivated her and her relatives to voluntarily put themselves in danger to save Jews under Nazi domination.

In my world, there is a movement known as the “Walk-away movement” filled with accounts of former Democrats who became sickened by the increasing hate within the Democrat Party. Their liberal leanings made them rebel against the assault on free speech, attack on the presumption of innocence and other ideas that used to be venerated within that party. Some recoiled at the growing racism and anti-Semitism of this political group that they used to respect. They question why we are once again counting how many drops of blood people have inherited from diverse ancestors. Many tell tales of being ostracized by former friends for having an opinion that goes against their previous conformity.  If you haven’t heard of this campaign, or the peaceful march they recently held in Washington, D.C., it is because it is, for political rather than factual reasons, deemed not to be newsworthy, much like the Gosnell movie I wrote about a few weeks ago. While on many issues my value system and many of these individual’s value system differ, we share in common a desire to treat others with respect and humanity as well as an appreciation of America. 

The many Christians I know, the diverse membership of the Walk-away Movement, and the courtesy and kindness I see in the supermarket and on airplanes show me a very different America from the one being highlighted in our universities and in the media. All these things are cause for optimism. What I don’t know is how to share my world with those who truly mean well, are kind and loving people, but who exist in their own bubble, thinking that they are informed while they are actually being deliberately misled.

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Before Thanksgiving

My trusty computer didn’t come up with an answer when I asked it who H.W. Westermayer was. Perhaps someone reading this knows. I do know that when I read this quote of his, it resonated with me.

“The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts… nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”

I have often wondered at the celebrations on V-E Day when the Allies accepted Germany’s surrender or the song the Israelites sang at the Red Sea. In both cases, immense suffering led up to the day of victory and there were still bloody battles ahead.

The triumph at hand did not bring back anyone who had been killed or restore the health of the wounded. It didn’t fill the holes in people’s hearts and more sorrow was imminent.

Yet, like the Pilgrims, the people of those generations expressed words and feelings of gratitude to God.  What is it about human nature that responds to ease and comfort with ingratitude, yet recognizes the need for thanks after passing through tough times? Each year, Thanksgiving gets erased a little more with revisionist history changing the meaning of the day and dreams of scoring low prices on wanted items pushing to the front of our consciousnesses. Let’s take a moment to picture those graves and the courage of those who came searching for a better life and willing to pay a dear, and often final,  price to acquire it.

 

THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Forged in Steel November 13, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - You may have heard of the possibly apocryphal tale of the Detroit manufacturer of buggy whips early in the twentieth century.  Although he heard rumors of a newfangled horseless carriage that some chap called Ford was building down the road, he made no changes to his profitable business.  Needless to say, he was soon out Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • My girlfriend’s earning potential is greater than mine. November 13, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - I have listened to a few of your podcasts that talk about the perils of income disparity between spouses, where the wife earns more than the husband. I'm a guy, and frankly the topic terrifies me because I'd rather drive nails through my feet than face the prospect of divorce because of this kind of Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Which World Is Yours? November 16, 2018 by Susan Lapin - This week, at the intermission of a performance of Fiddler on the Roof at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, MD, according to people in the audience, a man interrupted the show by standing up and yelling ‘Heil, Hitler,’ “Heil Trump’. Understandably, the audience was shaken and at least one woman said she expected bullets to Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • Rush to Judgment; Ambling to Correction November 18, 2018 by Susan Lapin - In my last Musing,  I questioned the "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump," shouted out at a performance of Fiddler on the Roof. I didn't know what was wrong with the reporting, but I wasn't willing to automatically accept the "white-supremacist blame it on Trump" story. Turns out he is an anti-Trump (presumably liberal?) man who was Read More

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About Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America’s Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, popular international speaker and best-selling author. He hosts the Rabbi Daniel Lapin podcast as well as co-hosting the Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show on the TCT network with his wife, Susan. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner, thus improving peoples’ finances, family and community life  has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths.

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