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Archive for the ‘Empathy’ Category



Ode to Mark

Apr6

by: on April 6th, 2015 | No Comments »

A black and white photograph of Mark Roland, an adolescent with Down syndrome.

Mark Roland, one of the 6,000 babies born each year with Down syndrome, was a human beacon of unconditional love. Today, the National Down Syndrome Society provides vital resources for those affected by Down syndrome.

Born on March 27, 1970 Mark Roland, a down syndrome child, came into this troubled planet and in the process of his journey of 33 years, before he died of respiratory arrest in 2003, Mark touched countless people with his innocent, joyful and open heart including mine. Even though I had met him only once as a young child, I never forgot his deep knowing and joyful presence for he was indeed an innocent pure new soul whose only purpose was to unconditionally love.

One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common genetic condition in America. Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome and about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year. Regardless of the type of Down syndrome a person may have, all have an extra, critical portion of chromosome 21 present in all or some of their cells. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) are becoming increasingly integrated into society and community organizations, such as school, health care systems, work forces, and social and recreational activities. Most people with Down syndrome have cognitive delays that are mild to moderate but they also have gentle souls and a great capacity to give and receive love — and Mark Roland was the perfect example of that gift.

Another inspiring example of raising a child with Down syndrome is the story of London, a young girl:

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A Meditation on “Dayenu”

Apr4

by: Roxanne J. Fand on April 4th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A hand holding green onions/scallions.

Jews in Iran and Afghanistan hit each other with bundles of green onions during the Seder song 'Dayenu' to remember the Jewish people's yearning for food during exile from Egypt. Credit: CreativeCommons / Rachel Barenblat.

Ever since I could remember, I loved Passover Seders, especially the song, “Dayenu,” whatever it might mean. Perhaps the story of freedom from slavery appealed to me as a child “enslaved” by parental and school authority. When I was old enough to read the English translation, “It Would Suffice Us,” and followed along stanza by stanza, I simply recognized gratitude for all the benefits God gave to the Israelites, from being freed of their Egyptian servitude to their regaining the Promised Land.

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The Tikkun Passover Seder Supplement

Apr1

by: on April 1st, 2015 | 2 Comments »

This is meant as a supplement to the traditional Haggadah. You can use it in addition to a traditional Haggadah, introducing whichever parts you like to your Seder to provoke a lively discussion, or you can use this as the basis for an alternative Haggadah, which can then be supplemented by the traditional Haggadah.

"Passover" by Lynne Feldman (lynnefeldman.com).

A Note to Non-Jews: You are very welcome at our Seder! Jesus was a Jew, and the Last Supper was a Seder. Our supplement affirms the liberatory message that is part of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is found in many other religious and spiritual traditions as well. You may find some of this ritual helpful if you create your own rite to celebrate the key insight of Easter or of any of the spring holidays of the world: that rebirth, renewal, and transformation are possible, and that we are not stuck in the dark, cold, and deadly energies of winter. Judaism builds on that universal experience of nature and adds another dimension: it suggests that the class structure (slavery, feudalism, capitalism, or neoliberal imperialism) can be overcome, and that we human beings, created in the image of the Transformative Power of the Universe (God), can create a world based on love, generosity, justice, and peace.

We understand God in part as the Transformative Power of the Universe – the force that makes possible the transformation from that which is to that which ought to be, the force that makes it possible to transcend the tendency of human beings to pass on to others the hurt and pain that has been done to us, the force that permeates every ounce of Being and unites all in one transcendent and imminent reality. In short, we understand God in part as the ultimate Unity of All with All, of whom we are always a part, even if we are not always conscious of the part of God we are, or the part of God that everyone and everything is. And you are welcome at our Seder even if you think all of this makes no sense and there is no God.

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Wielding Truth and Nonviolence in the Fight of Our Lives

Mar15

by: Michael N. Nagler on March 15th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

Sixty-seven years after Gandhi’s assassination, we find ourselves in a world still direly in need of his influence. Half the members of the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate have proudly declared that they don’t believe human activity is causing climate change. The wealthiest 80 people worldwide – all billionaires – now have as much material wealth as the poorest 350 million. The triumph of ideology over reason and greed over compassion is frightening.

While I have never owned a television set, I perforce watch snatches of commercial television in the locker room of my health club; enough to horrify any civilized person. Recently I saw something about the film “American Sniper”. The film is extremely violent, full of lies (see this article) designed to glorify cowardly violence and dehumanization, making both seem “patriotic.” It has grossed $300 million. Sparing you further details, it would not be too much to say that this country is steadily descending into barbarism – and no country that did that has ever survived.

Many generations feel that they are up against the critical battle between good and evil, but this is different. For the first time in the history of life on earth one species – us – has the capability to make the planet uninhabitable and we don’t have the wisdom, or even the common sense, to refrain from doing it.

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Once White in America: Raising Black Sons in a White Country

Feb28

by: Jane Lazarre on February 28th, 2015 | No Comments »

A white mother and her biracially Black son waving on the beach.

Novelist and memoirist Jane Lazarre offers an intimate, lyrical, post-Ferguson look at what it’s meant to her to raise her two black sons in a world that isn't so black-and-white. Credit: CreativeCommons / Everett Harper.

For Adam and Khary

Black bodies
swingin’ in
the summer
breeze
strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

It was 1969 and 1973, both times in early fall, when I first saw your small bodies, rose and tan, and fell in love for the second and third time with a black body, as it is named, for my first love was for your father. Always a word lover, I loved his words, trustworthy, often not expansive, sometimes even sparse, but always reliable and clear. How I—a first-generation Russian-Jewish girl—loved clarity! Reliable words—true words, measured words, filled with fascinating new life stories, drawing

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Reasons for Departure

Feb26

by: Ben Kline on February 26th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A screenshot from the movie Salt of the Sea.

About a year ago, I watched the 2008 Palestinian film Salt of this Sea, about a Palestinian-American woman named Soraya and her quest to reclaim her family’s home in Jaffa. The film has quite a few agonizing moments: in one scene, Soraya and her Ramallah-born boyfriend Emad are squatting in what remains of his ancestral village, well west of the Green Line. The illusion that they might build a new life atop these ruins is interrupted by a stern Israeli tour guide, who becomes much friendlier when a panicked Soraya lies and tells him she is Jewish.

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We Are “Carefully Taught” to Hate

Feb23

by: on February 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein reminded us in one of the songs, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” in their 1949 Broadway musical, South Pacific that:

You’ve got to be taught

To hate and fear

You’ve got to be taught

From year to year

It’s got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught….

President Obama echoed this sentiment at the recent White House Countering Violent Extremism Summit when he said that “Children learn to hate.”

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Are We Still Marching With King?

Jan19

by: Aryeh Cohen on January 19th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Every year, on this state-sanctioned day of reflection, we memorialize the Martin Luther King who was a peacemaker, a conciliator, a lover and not a hater. In reality, however, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was the master of the thunderous cadences of righteous rage.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." Credit: Creative Commons/Mike Licht/Library of Congress.

King preached nonviolence, he lived nonviolence. He had no illusions about the “valley filled with the misguided bloodthirsty mobs.” He agreed with Langston Hughes: “O, yes, I say it plain/America never was America to me,/And yet I swear this oath – /America will be!” Martin Luther King taught that nonviolence is the most powerful weapon we have to transform the world. Because the world is not only created by those with the guns and the truncheons.

As a Jew celebrating the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a quote from the sixth-century Babylonian Talmud comes to mind: “Any Sage who is not vengeful or does not hold a grudge is not a Sage.” (Yoma 22b-23a)

“But wait!” you might object, “Doesn’t Torah say ‘You shall not take vengeance, and you shall not harbor a grudge?!’” This is true. However, the Talmud is teaching us that there is an obligation and a place for righteous rage. The mishnaic Hebrew word for righteous rage is tar’omet, which has the same root as thunder. The rabbi who witnesses an injustice and does not burn with righteous rage is not a rabbi. The rabbi who does not carry the memory of unjust treatment, and does not rage against it is not a rabbi.

In his speech “Beyond Vietnam,” King said:

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look easily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.”

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

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Join George Lakoff, Marianne Williamson​, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Matthew Fox and more to Reclaim America

Dec13

by: Tikkun on December 13th, 2014 | Comments Off

After the 2014 elections and facing a Congress determined to dismantle environmental protections and health and social benefits for middle income Americans and the poor in 2015-2016, and after the spate of well-publicized police murders of African American men and grand juries refusing to indict the police, it’s critical that ethically sensitive people develop a strategy to: RECLAIM AMERICA

YOU ARE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN:

WHAT: A Strategy Discussion

WHEN: Sunday December 14th from1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: At the University of San Francisco McLaren Hall(Golden Gate Ave near Roselyn Terrace)

 

If you can’t make it, create a similar gathering in your community, church, synagogue, mosque, ashram, university, political movement, social change organization, etc. We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives may be able to help you do so. So whether or not you can come to this, please read the full note below!

WHO: Among the presenters at our strategy conference:

Rev. Amos Brown pastor, Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, George Lakoff Prof. of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the UC Berkeley, author of Don’t Think of an Elephant and Moral Politics, Rabbi Michael Lerner Editor of Tikkun, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue, author of The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right and Spirit Matters, Mathew Fox Liberation Theologian, author of Original Blessing and The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Marianne Williamson author of Healing the Soul of America: A Return to Love and Imagine What America Could Be in the 21st Century, Rhonda Magee Professor of Law at USF teaches Race Law and Policy,Cat Zavis Attorney, Executive Director, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, mediator, and teacher of Empathic Communication, Reginald W. Lyles from Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland and former advisor to Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, Jorge Aquino Liberation Theologianof the Theology and Religious Studies Dept. of USF, Rebecca Kaplan Oakland City Council President, Iftekhar Hai President of United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

(Our speakers will start the discussion, but the most important person to be there is YOU). Whether or not you can come, please send this out to everyone on your lists, paste it on your website and your Facebook or other social media, and send it to people all around the U.S. because if they can’t come themselves, they might be inspired to create a similar gathering where they live, and we will be happy to work with them to assist them in doing so. And they probably have friends in northern California who might love to come if they knew about this!

Pre-registration at: spiritualprogressives.org/reclaimAmerica

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Dec11

by: Tikkun on December 11th, 2014 | Comments Off

Berkeley Protests /Credit: Annette Bernhardt

A vital aspect of the ongoing Berkeley Protests (along with those around the country) is the undeniable power of voice. We at Tikkun believe in the voice of the people, from that of an individual blogger to the harmonious chants of thousands in the streets. We know, as these protests have shown, how powerful a group of citizens can be when they come together to let their voices be heard. And we know the importance of each individual within the crowd.

Over the years both Tikkun and the Tikkun Daily blog have expanded their writer base, drawing in brilliant younger writers and increasing interfaith diversity. We’ve created a platform for individuals to let their voices free. This grants them the opportunity to gather momentum and support and turn their single cry into the chant of many.

Below we have two examples of writers who have graced Tikkun with their voice and in turn found a home:

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