I understand if you feel deeply troubled by what has been happening in the United States and around the world this past year. I know I do. But I also have a lot to be grateful for in my personal life – my son finished writing his first book (on a phenomenology of hope with a special focus on Martin Buber) and my grandchildren are flourishing into wonderful pre-adolescents. And I’m very proud to tell you that four weeks ago Tikkun magazine received the “Magazine of the Year Award” from the Religion Newswriters Association, reminding the public at large of the high quality of our magazine. And I’m proud that we were among the cosponsors of the Great Climate March in New York City. A Tikkun and Network of Spiritual Progressives contingent marched in it, and I loved being there with 400,000 demonstrators – so many caring and joyous people!
Yet despite these achievements, the political developments in the United States, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, and Syria have been so upsetting that they have interfered with my sleep and the writing I had planned for the year. I have been so upset by the outrageous behavior of ISIS and the simplistic response of the West (“let’s bomb them and then see what happens”), which threatens to deepen the mess we in the United States helped to create with our last invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
All this came after a summer in which Israelis, understandably fearful from the daily bombing attempts that sent them (often several times a day) into air raid shelters to avoid the missiles beings launched by Hamas, allowed themselves to forget (if they ever really understood) the horrible conditions that the Occupation has imposed on Palestinians and the hunger and poverty that their seven-year blockade of Gaza has imposed on Gazans (with the resulting attitude of “if we are going to perish, let’s do it by fighting back” that was propagated by the leadership of Hamas). Meanwhile most Americans rallied around Israel, forgetting that Israel had broken off peace negotiations with the nonviolence-enforcing Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. While the American Jewish community told itself Israel “had no alternative,” we at Tikkun were speaking out to remind people that there actually is an alternative: to end the Occupation of the West Bank. In doing so, Israel would need to embrace generous and caring terms that show real respect for the humanity of the Palestinians – in other words, Israel would need to decide to make peace with the Palestinian people rather than beat them into submission. I’ve specified the terms that I think would bring real peace in the Winter 2014 issue of Tikkun and more fully in my book Embracing Israel/Palestine.
And as if this weren’t bad enough, the right wing in the United States may be on the verge of capturing both houses of Congress. This right-wing resurgence has drawn strength from the racism that has been systematically directed at President Obama. At the same time, Democrats have suffered from Obama’s failure to fight for a coherent alternative to militarism, to resist hate-based policies toward immigrants (he deported more undocumented immigrants than any previous president), and to counter the ethos of selfishness and materialism that is championed by our corporate-dominated culture. And now, the Supreme Court has struck down every legislative attempt to restrain the ability of the rich to shape elections and defacto buy themselves the best Congress that their wealth can buy.
Reading the New York Times these days can leave one feeling heartbroken and powerless. Yet, times like these call us to open our hearts in empathy to all beings and take a stand for love, kindness, and generosity). Times like these call us to push beyond our sense of despair to engage in work that promotes a new worldview – one that inspires us to move beyond our limited belief of what is realistic to imagine and work toward what is desirable. And they call for an alternative that we at Tikkun and our Tikkun Community, also known as the interfaith and secular humanist and atheist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives, has been developing. But to keep that alternative alive, we need your support!
We at Tikkun have some very important ideas about how to change the dominance of the militarists, the cheerleaders for the 1 percent, and the voices of cynicism and despair, but I worry that you and others may have gotten so exhausted by the suffering in the world that you might no longer recognize how important it is to keep Tikkun‘s voice strong by making a generous donation now, even if you already donated this year or rejoined our Network of Spiritual Progressives. I want to highlight some of our great work to help you recognize how important our work is and to inspire you to support us yet again with a tax-deductible donation.