Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Standard Operating Procedure

As per my SOP, I’ve been walking around for something like 2 weeks with a post topic in my head but have not committed any of it to paper until right now, 9:25 PM on post day. This familiar story eventually resolves itself when my muse, Panic, sings to me ever so jarringly and I come up with a post I’m happy with, related to my original idea or not. Extremely stressful as it is at times, it always works. My dad is a business consultant and he always tells me, “For a consultant, one data point is a trend!” but I’ve done even better. The concept of chazakah is basically the Jewish version of third time’s the charm, and lookie here, I’ve got a chazakah on last-minute posting, so that’s pretty much my OK to run the rest of my posts in this fashion.

Thing is, anyone with a modicum of common sense would ask why I keep subjecting myself to this if all it brings me is unnecessary stress. I’ve clearly acknowledged that the way I do this blog thing isn’t the ideal way to do it, so why not try and change my ways instead of taking the success of my faulty system as encouragement? In addition, I do this with my schoolwork all the time and quite often it doesn’t come through in the way I want it to. You’d think a guy could take a hint…

So allow me to rant about being stuck in one’s ways.

People act in a way similar to the law of inertia i.e. objects at rest will stay at rest unless made to move by an outside force, and objects in motion will continue to move unless stopped by an outside force. We as human beings tend to stick to what we know, because what we know is comfortable, and we won’t change unless it is absolutely required of us.

As tantalizing as the prospect is, I can’t really unleash a diatribe on human nature because a) if you couldn’t tell from the intro, I’m pretty much the same way, and the thing I probably detest most in the world is hypocrisy, and b) assaulting the way people behave is assaulting over six-and-a-half billion people; it’s just too grand a scale and nothing productive can be done about it. But I have to rant, ranting is what I do, so what do I do about this? Well, I guess step one is to narrow the scope, and step two is to pick an area of this phenomenon that I don’t fall into….hmmm…BINGO! Got it!

Allow me to rant about Jews being stuck in their ways.

Our wonderful tribe seems to especially struggle with this issue. No, I’m not going to go off on how our religion is perceived by many to be archaic and obsolete and it’s time we dumped the whacko rituals. In fact, I think that’s utter idiocy and if people would realize that Judaism isn’t a religion but rather a lifestyle designed to make you a good, God-fearing person, they wouldn't be saying stuff like that. It’s unfortunate that many if not most Jews don’t see it as such, and that’s precisely what I’m so bothered by.

As Daniel and I have riffed on before, perfectly normal, wonderful, good-hearted people are turned away from a community because they wait three hours instead of six, follow a different hechsher, or wear colored shirts on Shabbat. It stems primarily from a difficulty accepting what’s different, I think. People as a whole naturally feel threatened by what is different, and that’s okay, but Jews, especially in New York, if my experiences count for anything, take it to a whole new level. They (and I use that word purposely, as I consider myself to not be among the number who reject based on appearance and custom) are so focused on what is different about the different people that they fail to recognize the similarities between them. On an even simpler level, they fail to see that the subject of their rejection is overall just a good person that they would otherwise get along wonderfully with. It begins to manifest itself in ugly, ugly ways that probably don’t do any good for our global reputation. Though the fact that I don’t put much stock in the world view of Jews is well documented, someone somewhere out there probably thinks that’s important.

A story comes to mind along with that thought though. The summer of 2008, I was in Israel on a summer program giving essentially what was my last ditch effort at making Judaism a part of my life. Obviously, it worked, but what happened in this story could have turned me away completely had I chosen to take it way to seriously. On a free afternoon, I went to visit my post-high school (2006-2007 academic school year) yeshiva that, for reasons soon to be made obvious, will not be mentioned by name. I hadn’t seen or spoken to any of my Rabbeim since I left in mid-June 2007, so I figured it would be nice to pop by for an hour or two and catch up with everyone. I walked into the main building in a polo shirt, shorts, and sandals, as I had just come from a walking tour of the Old City, and this is a mid-heat wave Israeli summer we’re talking about here aka 100+ degrees. I figured given the circumstances it wouldn’t be a problem showing up in shorts and sandals to a place with a strict button-down shirt and pants dress code, but therein lies the rub.

Long story short, I was looked upon and spoken to with contempt by many of my Rabbeim because I a) had the bitterAUDACITYsarcasm to walk into the building dressed like I was, and b) because I was in Israel on a program that was perceived as “kiruv.” Nevermind that this program changed my life forever, for the better, and kept me Jewish, it’s drippingBENEATHsarcasm a former student of this yeshiva to associate with such a program.


Recalling that story brings me back to that moment when I wanted to tear that hypocritical place down brick by brick and now I’m officially pissed off. So, I’m going to stop. Getting legitimately mad is not what I had in mind when I sat down to write tonight and was most definitely an unintended and unwanted consequence of this post. In the end though, not much else needs to be said here. I figure you all get the point. This is ridiculous; if we’re supposed to be the chosen people then let’s start acting like it, okay? We have enough people all over the world that hate us, we don’t need to hate on each other.

…phew. Sorry about that, things got a little crazy there for a sec. Wouldn’t wanna conclude this thing on a bad note, so I took a break, got a drink, and listened to some Anterior to get the rage out. I feel better now :). But seriously, can we find the strength and wherewithal to break out of our own personal SOPs and maybe embrace someone or something that might not be so comfortable? Maybe then I’ll have a post written before post day…

Song of the Day – Transmigration Macabre -Arch Enemy

Ps. As per my SOP, this was nowhere close to what I was originally going to write about. I wrote the first paragraph and then it kind of wrote itself. Go figure


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