How do you keep current events from getting you down?

October 7th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 18 comments

Hello Rabbi Lapin and Susan,

I am generally an optimistic person, and the Jewish faith we share teaches us to be optimistic, even in difficult times. However, I am finding it increasingly difficult to feel optimistic about our country’s future, given the vitriolic, hateful language and actions employed on a daily basis against President Trump and conservative values in general.

This, combined with the lightning speed with which the PC forces are seeming to “have their way,” forcing us into either silence or acquiescence with things we are against morally and ethically, has given me the blues.

Do you see hopeful signs, and if so, where? Thank you.

Your friend and student,

Judy G.

Dear Judy,

We think you are speaking for many when you say that there are times that you find it hard to be optimistic about the future of the United States. As you also say, Judaism fundamentally teaches optimism, but it is not a “sit back and do nothing” optimism. The Torah demands action aimed at propelling things in the right direction.

If we may say, your own story, which you tell so eloquently (and humorously) in you wonderful book, The Skeptic and the Rabbi, is a large part of our answer. Could you ever have imagined writing the letter you just wrote us back when you were a devotedly liberal woman? People and their ideas are capable of change. 

Much of the reason you were liberal was because of a caring nature and because of your belief in core values, among them independent thinking, intellectual exploration and compassion. Back then you thought that those values belonged to the Left.  Today, however, it is clear that genuine liberalism is scorned by leaders of the  Democrat Party, colleges and media.

That very same media drives a great deal of the pessimism to which we  too easily succumb. They do not cover stories of Americans, young, old, male, female and of all religions and races who are horrified by the vituperation, hatred and lock-step thinking you describe. Many of them have a voter registration card with a “D” on it, but they are paying attention. It is incumbent on each of us to keep making connections and forming relationships, not in order to convert others to our politics, but to defy the fracturing of society that the extreme Left is promoting.

America has a tradition of religious Great Awakenings. The first played a pivotal role in the break from England while a later one was critical in leading up to the moral battle of the Civil War. We anticipate and pray for America’s third great religious awakening.  We do believe that returning to God must be part of any path to survival, and in America’s case that means a revitalized Christianity. And it is important to note that today, unlike in medieval times, a revitalized American Christianity is crucial for Jewish welfare. The threat against Jews today is not fervent, philo-Semitic, Israel-loving Christians, but America’s sinister slide into socialism advocated by the extreme Left.

Central to socialists in the Democratic Party is the idea of carving out special zones of immunity from the law and from Judeo-Christian values for selected groups. The resulting chaos of group violence, public filth and depravity and continued family breakdown imperils the survival of Jews and all other law-abiding Americans.  We are certain that only the revitalized faith of fervent Bible-believing Christians and Jews can slow down and stop this terrifying juggernaut of destructive secular socialism tearing down upon us.

This won’t be easy but a cornerstone of faith is the courage to stand up for what is right despite threats and bullying. We know that you and your family do exactly that and we believe that if enough of us do so, this nation will turn back to its founding promise. The American Alliance of Jews and Christians which we are privileged to serve, was founded to allow Jews and Christians to bravely work together to support those values on which this country was built.

Forming friendships and alliances with likeminded people is something important that each of us can do.  The Left focuses on fracturing a people into many separate groups in order to require ever larger central government and to ease its trajectory into tyranny.  Thus our antidote must surely be building community and connection.  Your uplifting book is helping to do that and we through our AAJC are dedicated to doing the same. 

The very ‘lightning speed,’ lack of tolerance and lack of restraint of the Left today, may well be the trigger that wakes enough up in order to start the process of restoring sanity. Like the proverbial frog who will allow itself to be boiled to death if the heat under the pot in which he sits is gradually raised while he will jump to safety if a blast of heat is applied, we have faith in American’s “jumping out” of the road to destruction as long as Americans are aware of it and courageous enough to stand for the truth.

Wishing you, your family, America and the world a blessed 5780,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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18 comments

JasB says:

I hear these types of laments all the time and have come to realize they are almost all based on a concept of winning and losing. It’s hard to accept that there will never be a time when “we have won”. The reality is, life is about perseverance. All you can do is persevere or default. As my daughter says, “Suck it up, old man. Don’t quit!” So we throw together a smorgasbord of metaphors, “gird our loins” and march “once more into the breach” to, um…, “bell the cat(?)”. The gift of love and humor is our blessing to carry on.

Susan Lapin says:

We do have to persevere, but we would like to thrive as well. I think Judy want to “win” to the extent of bequeathing her children and grandchildren a safe world that is not consumed by hatred. If you’ve read any of her books, she has a great sense of humor and she does “march on.”

David J says:

JasB and Mrs. Lapin make good points. While we shouldn’t give up, I will say that JasB’s comment is interesting because sometimes one and one’s family just has to make do. I have several friends that have suffered under Marxist rule, and most of them still do. In their situations, they just have to cope the best they can as they won’t “win” in their respective societies at large. But within their own families and with associates, they can live the moral society they seek, and many of them do just that.

Susan Lapin says:

David, I pray that we can stop the Leftist movement before having to reach that way of living.

Philip Cressey Jr says:

What is the title of the book that is being referred to?

Terry Sterling says:

Thank you Rabbi and Susan for your comforting answer. It just baffles me how so many seemingly intelligent and good people cannot see what is happening. Even people who don’t believe in G-d care for their descendants. The only thing I can figure is they are blinded by greed, power or maybe G-d. It is foolish!
I wish somehow we could convince others of the truth. It seems a daunting task to me, but I know our G-d is “The Almighty” and His will, will be done regardless. I am ready to step up to the plate if the Lord wants me to and shows me what to do. I do discuss the current state of our world with my teenagers. I suppose I should increase my circle.
Terry Sterling

Susan Lapin says:

Terry, you’d be amazed at how many parents do not discuss big ideas with their teenagers. It needs to be done respectfully and wisely, but it is so important.

Matt says:

Judy, I think it’s more important to find a way to cope with bad news than trying to wish it were good news. The news is not good, and the future is not looking good either. I found a lot of comfort using the following strategy: Position yourself to move to Israel (or some other country) but without actually moving. Get a passport and foreign bank account. Get rid of your junk. Get out of debt and start saving money. Start learning another language. Then you will know that you can leave the US in a hurry should the need arise. You’ll be less stressed knowing you have a plan B.

Susan Lapin says:

Matt, Maimonides, a great 12th century rabbi, advised to always keep a third of one’s assets in easily moveable form. As the world gets smaller and smaller, sometimes plan B and even C and D fall away. But staying open to change, even in one’s country of birth, is an important quality to cultivate.

Ted Smith says:

OVERWHELMING ODDS!! That seems to be a favorite in the Lord’s play book. ONE young man out of ALL of Saul’s army STOOD for the glory of his Lord against Goliath. Out of 22,000 men only 300 were chosen to STAND with Gideon to terrify and defeat the vast Midianite armies. The list goes on and on. We are never promised “victory” in this life, but quite the opposite – chaos and trouble. But we are called on to take a stand, to do fierce battle with it. And if we do, if even only a handful will engage in the fierce battle, then the Lord will again snatch victory out of certain defeat and bring times of great refreshing! But! That will only last a while, until He opens the play book again. He will ALWAYS create opportunities for the few heroes to courageously stand and defeat the overwhelming odds. Wouldn’t we all love to be one of those heroes?

Susan Lapin says:

Sign me up, Ted! That was a rousing speech you just gave.

Carl August Schleg says:

GREAT QUESTION, and even BETTER ANSWER….
Personally, MY RABBI and WIFE can understand this, though too many can’t comprehend it….’They can’t ‘promise’ me Viet Nam a second time….will be looking into and READING her book/books
HAVE A GREAT DAY

Susan Lapin says:

Since my husband is the title rabbi in Judy’s book, The Skeptic and the Rabbi, I certainly hope you do enjoy the book. Her other books are in humor genre and quite fun to read.

Gus says:

Judy’s concern is all of ours.
Continue to be strong and pray for our nation and people of our nation as well as Israel.
This is the only way we continue to persevere.
Once we are gone it matters no more, but we must hold on and continue to be strong together as one people of God. We are many even though we do not see it just as the news would like us to believe what is not.
They are not winning as long as we stand together and keep praying.
Gus

Susan Lapin says:

I’m loving these strong replies, Gus.

Lori says:

I have great hopes in the pockets of minorities God has placed throughout His earth. Homeschoolers come to mind. We may be small and our bank accounts may be even smaller, but we serve a mighty God who delights to work through a small army who tries to be obedient and places its trust in a Being that can do the impossible. (That way He gets the glory as we certainly couldn’t take the credit.)

Susan Lapin says:

Lori, you are right to point out that there are pockets of all sorts of individuals and the fact that the press doesn’t report on them – or only reports negative things – doesn’t mean that God doesn’t use them in powerful ways.

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