Readers Respond: Letters from Fall 2011
A NOTE ON LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
We welcome your responses to our articles. Send your letters to the editor to Letters@Tikkun.org. Please remember, however, not to attribute to Tikkun views other than those expressed in our editorials. We email, post, and print many articles with which we have strong disagreements, because that is what makes Tikkun a location for a true diversity of ideas. Tikkun reserves the right to edit your letters to fit available space in the magazine.
This is to let you know that I had a July 4 party / potluck / music jam this summer outside in the back yard next to our weeping willow tree, and fellow Tikkun-er Julie Oxenberg and I did readings from Rabbi Lerner’s Interdependence Day materials, which I thought were truly wonderful and had printed out beforehand. I started the afternoon by speaking a little about the ideas behind it and about the fundamental Tikkun notion that “the well-being of each one of us is dependent on the well-being of all of us.” Then we passed the piece around and each person read one paragraph from the section about “the waves of immigrants, to the escaped slaves…etc.,” then Julie and I read much of the rest of the piece aloud to the gathering. Julie asked the question about “what part of being an American do we feel grateful for?” And as critical of American culture as we are our great crowd of progressives came up with some very moving stories. Afterward, we picked up our guitars and microphones, cranked up the amps and played some great rock ‘n’ roll and finally walked over to the Newton fireworks to end the evening.
Several people told me the next day how much they appreciated the reading and the ideas behind it. It felt great to do it and to bring some Tikkun spiritual politics to a gathering outside on the green grass.
Thanks to Rabbi Lerner for writing this piece, which gave us a needed alternative way of celebrating an important American holiday, and in general for doing everything he has for us over the years.
CHARGING PER ARTICLE
I just renewed my subscription and so much appreciate the work that you are doing on tight resources. I also want to share a feeling that I have: when I see that Tikkun/NSP is charging per article, I feel so sad. I want what Tikkun/NSP is offering to be able to be read by people here and around the world, and not only those who can afford to pay two dollars. I believe in the commons. When enough people do not believe in and invest in and fight for the commons, then the commons are sold for money, and only those with money get to graze. When I see the pay-per-article, my heart aches because it seems that we are leading the way away from the commons—and that feels to me to be in contrast with our values. I know that it is hard to figure out how to make things work. I will continue to pray for new doors to open.
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
WHY RELIGION, AND WHY INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE?
In this age of global consciousness, no longer are we isolated enough to defend and legislate the rituals of the past, rather we must develop ways to diminish our differences and rejoice in our commonalities. Religion is the only human endeavor that has consistently attempted to provide us with a model to pattern our individual lives harmoniously. Our religious traditions have always encouraged ordinary people to live and think at levels of integrated complexity that would be otherwise impossible. If we are going to succeed in transforming the misguided and destructive values that are leading us to the brink of disaster, the future will require us to embrace more fully the vast knowledge and wisdom inherent in the world’s diverse religious traditions.
As we approach the twenty-first century, interreligious dialogue will be an
indispensable tool for charting a new course. The dialogue between us
will affirm the positive value of diversity through constructive
interaction and open listening. A renaissance in the mind of humanity
will open the possibility of integrating a living ecosystem with
Mary Jane Miller
Thank you very much, but you can tell Mr. Be Scofield that I am perfectly capable of listing what I do and do not believe. He paints atheists with too broad a brush in his Tikkun Daily blog post “5 Myths Atheists Believe about Religion.” As an atheist, I not only don’t believe in some mythical god, I am anti-religion. After watching what fundamentalist religion does to win, I’m against it all. I don’t care what name they put to their belief system. I also believe that even spirituality requires a belief in myths of some sort, be it god or not. Religion frequently gives an excuse for bad behavior, but doesn’t always cause it. Not all, but most, are equally crazy. So, please tell Mr. Scofield that he doesn’t speak for me, or for Ms. Greta Cristina. I’m sure she can speak for herself as well.
I’d like to see the Editors of Tikkun come up with a thorough mystical/theosophic view on the nature (and spirit) of evil. In your commemorative Winter 2011 issue Terry Eagleton took us on a nice intellectual journey in “The Nature of Evil,” in some ways reflecting the basic attitude of Konstantin Leontiev—that man’s purpose in life isn’t really to be happy but rather to fulfill the will of God in history—but failed to provide us with a satisfactory theodicy. Nicholas Berdyaev was right. The origin of evil is spiritual and those who offer us philosophical insights about it should always be equipped to show a justification for the ways of God, instead of needlessly complaining on the imperfection and lowness of man’s nature.
As a one-time contributor to Tikkun magazine, I continue to be stunned and
dismayed by its ongoing decline, as exemplified by Rabbi Lerner’s decision to interview Noam Chomsky on ways to stave off despair and confront global capital (“Overcoming Despair as the Republicans Take Over: A Conversation with Noam Chomsky” in the Spring 2011 issue). It is rather the decision to honor Chomsky with space in Tikkun magazine that ought to be a cause for despair. What sort of moral standing does Rabbi Lerner or anyone else on the Left imagine is possessed by Chomsky, the friend of Holocaust deniers and Hezbollah and denier of the Cambodian genocide? It is a disgrace to accord the views of this apologist for mass murder any respect whatsoever.
ISRAELI TENT PROTESTS
Am I missing the irony, somewhere? Were the three articles on the Israeli tent cities [emailed to Tikkun’s mailing list, which you can sign up for at tikkun.org/mail] intended as humor, which I missed? Soon the U.S. media will be awash in a rush to offer the biggest and loudest remembrance of the tenth anniversary of the events of 9/11, when long-oppressed and muzzled Arab voices, led by men taught and once supported by the U.S. government, brought down two of the world’s tallest buildings as revenge (a dirty sounding word, but what else would you call it?) for our blind support of Israel and our support for corrupt Middle East dictators. That latter category became all the more evident as the erstwhile liberal President Obama sat out the earliest phases of the Arab Spring and still won’t openly criticize the Saudis and Bahrainis for their brutal treatment of nonviolent protesters, let alone offer any credible support to the revolutionaries anywhere, aside from Libya, where it’s felt the United States is settling a score. As the media burn with the frenzy of 9/11-remembering, most Americans will still insist that we were attacked, because we were rich and beautiful and somewhat slutty; because of our lifestyle, our wealth and freedom, and our working women.
Meanwhile, the Arab Spring sputters on, people still flowing into the streets, encouraged now by the image of Hosni Mubarak in the cage of an accused criminal; ordinary people still defiant in the face of increasing government violence, and of silence on the part of the US government, are demanding more freedom, some form of democracy, and when the leaders won’t budge, new leaders.
So now we find that the Israelis are protesting. Already sitting on most of what should have been Palestine, and still stealing more Palestinian land as we speak; still cutting roads and building fences and making any idea of a Palestinian state ever happening a wild and wilder fantasy; what are they protesting against? For?
From the sound of it, they’ve been smoking some first-class Humboldt weed. They want a welfare state! More government services, a lower cost of living, and—this is where the weed comes in—no taxes! And you dare to compare the greed, the insolence, the very blindness of these people to the Arab Spring? They’re like clueless Californians camping out with the Tea Party: give us more, but tax us less!
Unless I’m missing something, it is disgraceful and vile that the Israeli protests are being compared to the heroic struggle of the Arab people. Netanyahu is a monster whose talk of New York Jews having more right to live in Israel than Arab Israelis born in Jerusalem smacks of the language of Holocaust, but this “give us more stuff for no money” idea on the part of the people is pathetic. The Arabs are demanding basic human rights and access to opportunity; the Israelis, already the beneficiary of the willful ignorance of the American people and their equally uninformed government, live by comparison in the lap of luxury and they’re demanding more—and for less!
The very nerve. And on the pages of Tikkun.
San Francisco, CA