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,
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